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Photo: Cheryl Gerber

Thousands Gathered at the Altar of Booze

New Orleans history with cocktails is as rich as a vat of simple syrup.

This is the birthplace of the Sazerac and Peychaud Bitters. It brought imbibers the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Café Brûlot, the almighty Hurricane. Local importers popularized absinthe, and then bartenders turned it into a highly palatable frappe.

A thank you, one million times over, is due.

That’s what Ann Tuennerman thought when she gathered a small group cocktail connoisseurs back in 2002 for a casual walking tour of New Orleans’ most venerated watering holes.

Under the warm glow of Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar, the group paid their respects to the fearless pioneers that came before them. By drinking.

It all started when Tuennerman read Kerri McCaffety’s Obituary Cocktail: The Great Saloons of New Orleans. In its pages, untold stories of local haunts and the drinks served there. Napoleon House, Pat O’Brien’s, Galatoire’s. There was history to mine in those New Orleans stalwarts.

Ann knew there were tall tales in tumblers,

culture in coupes.

The next year, in 2003, their small gathering expanded. Ten restaurants participated. One thousand people came. Rogers gave her project a new name: Tales of the Cocktail.

Fifteen years later, it’s a much grander–though equally potent–affair.

Thousands of pros and aficionados fly in the world over to partake in Tales of the Cocktail. The event spans seven blurry days, with a schedule your liver can’t even begin to keep up with.

Photo by: Paul Broussard
Photo by: Cheryl Gerber

Mixologists and mere drinking mortals are invited to partake in everything from educational bar crawls to sustainability summits. There are small batch tastings, spiked juice bars, panels on cocktails in Colonial America.

Tickets are open to all. Industry pros are also invited to become members of Tales 365 for perks like discounts and early event access.

In the week that Tales of the Cocktail takes over New Orleans, the sound of shaking ice and clanging bar spoons fills the air. Hints of crushed mint and citrus peels waft gently. Industry highfliers take their rightful place at the bar, where cocktails past and cocktails future are shaken and stirred, to absolutely delicious results.

Visit New Orleans and start your story with #OneTimeInNOLA.

Jenny is a writer of culture both high and low. Her work has appeared in V Magazine, Lenny Letter, and TIME, to name a few. She first fell in love with New Orleans over buttermilk biscuits and strawberry preserves. She’s been a NOLA regular ever since.

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