I recently attended my first Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. It was hands down the best trade show I have ever attended. Not only did I enjoy more quality cocktails in the course of three days than some will in an entire lifetime, but the experience reminded me of some important life lessons as well.
1. Try New Things
They will surprise you (in a good way). Registration greeted me with the “Green Beast,” which Pernod Absinthe was promoting as the re-launch of their classic absinthe recipe from 1805. I’m not a huge fan of absinthe – and I know I’m not alone when I say this – so I was skeptical to say the least.
Imagine my pleasant surprise with an absinthe libation that was light and refreshing. My opinion on an entire subset of liquid culture had been transformed within 20 minutes of the convention. Amazing. What followed was not for the amateur, which brings me to number two…
2. Pace Yourself
It’s a marathon not a sprint. There were tasting rooms and seminars complete with cocktails, happy hours, snack stands (with cocktails), cocktail kiosks, pool parties, and cocktail tours that started as early as 8:30am. This required a daily scheduling strategy and a calculated plan of attack. It also required a commitment to “no thank you” and enough self control to leave liquid in the glass despite the wonderful tastes. Pacing my intake also worked to stave off palate burnout.
3. Do What You Love
If you do, it won’t feel like work and eventually you’ll start looking for excuses to do the ‘“work.” I almost felt guilty. My prior trade show life was all pitches and PowerPoints. While I learned a lot and still have a lot to learn – like how temperature affects taste and texture (that seminar was full), or the perfect balance of a cocktail (somewhere between sweet and sour – strong and weak) – this was FUN!
People were passionate about what they were doing; challenging themselves and the industry. It was truly inspiring. So thank you Tales. Thank you New Orleans. And All Hail the Cocktail!
P.S. I’ll see you next year.