Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) returned to New Orleans July 25-27, 2022 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. This is the first in-person TOTC event for the first time since 2019. Tales is an annual event that brings together spirit industry professionals and cocktail aficionados from across the world.
The events are packed with hundreds of opportunities developed specifically for industry professionals from bartenders to distillers. This year’s event featured in-person education, tastings, networking, and awards programming.
Some events were also open to the public. People could enjoy delicious cocktails with some of the best bartenders in the world behind the bars.
My first Tales of the Cocktail experience began on Sunday at check in at the beautiful Ritz Carlton New Orleans. I downloaded the Whova app for the event and started customizing my schedule. I RSVP’d to fit in as many activities as possible over the 2.5 days I attended the event.
After check in, I walked just one block to the Alibar to start my day off with “Talesgating” sponsored by Filthy brand. The brand’s founder and CEO Filthy Daniel Singer was even behind the bar serving Bloody Marys with their signature drink mix paired with vodka, tequila or gin.
I opted to try their Filthy Margarita mix with Petron silver. This first drink became one of my favorites of the day. After two Filthy margaritas it was time to head to the Speed Rack competition.
Tales of the Cocktail: The Speed Rack Competition
There was a cast of all female bartenders facing off in head to head Speed Rack competition. This endeavor was to benefit survivors of breast cancer. Speed Rack was founded by Ivy Mix and Lynette Marrero. The event was held at Republic New Orleans.
The competition happens in rounds where two very experienced bartenders face off. I never knew bartenders trained for these types of competitions. These top 18 finalists already competed and won their regional contests and made it to the finals in New Orleans.
In the Speed Rack competition, there are four judges who order four different drinks. Each competitor must make the drink in the round racing to see who can finish first. The judges then critique each one of the drinks they ordered and score them. A winner is chosen for each round.
Jess Pomerantz from South Carolina won the overall competition this year. I met her parents who were there to support her while watching the rounds while I was photographing the event.
Cocktails from a huge variety of brands were served all around the venue during the competition.
The Aperol spritz and Negroni were in high demand near the stage.
My standout favorites included chartreuse ice cream. I learned that no one except the founders know the recipe behind the herbaceous chartreuse treat.
I also enjoyed a Shochu watermelon inspired cocktail made by the iichiko brand sake bartender.
And my winner for the party was the rum punch made with the Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum.
After the Speed Rack competition, I decided to call it a day and head home. I wanted to prepare for Day 2 events which were happening all across downtown New Orleans.