Tales of the Cocktail Impact: Ruth Chris Steak House

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Helen Mackey is the Vice President of Menu Strategy, Food & Beverage, and Innovation for Ruth’s Chris Steak House. She had the idea of creating an incentive-based competition within the organization where the winning bartenders were sent to Tales of the Cocktail as a reward. Helen hoped that the educational and networking opportunities that Tales of the Cocktail offers attending bartenders would help inspire her workforce, inform the culture of the organization, and, ultimately, result in increased business.

After just 1 year, she knew she made the right decision. To date, Helen has sent more than 40 Ruth’s Chris bartenders to Tales of the Cocktail. The bartenders participate in various educational and team-building exercises throughout the event – splitting into groups to cover as much territory as possible and then bringing that knowledge back to the group.


Ruth’s Chris Steak House utilizes Tales of the Cocktail for the professional development of its bartenders in order to:

  • Build a culture of cocktail within their bartending community
  • Grow enthusiasm and gain appreciation for the craft

Ruth’s Chris Steak House utilizes Tales of the Cocktail to build its own brand in order to:

  • Raise its brand profile by establishing its presence within the industry
  • Showcase its employees and quality of service through hosting memorable events


Professional Development: The positive impacts of Ruth’s Chris’ bartenders attending Tales of the Cocktail are undeniable. Enthusiasm and sales “skyrocket” at the home locations of the bartenders that attend Tales of the Cocktail.

  • After Tales of the Cocktail piqued his interest in whiskey, a bartender created a “whiskey expert” area at the Ruth’s Chris in Fort Worth, Texas, enhancing the image of the entire location and providing opportunities for increased customer engagement.
  • In a similar vein, a bartender from Woodland Hills location took inspiration from Tales of the Cocktail to become a Master Sommelier. His success turned the entire Woodland Hills location into the “little bar that could” and inspired other bartenders within the organization.

Brand Building: Ruth’s Chris Steak House plugs into Tales of the Cocktail by hosting multiple events throughout the week.

  • In addition to Tales of the Cocktail’s “Spirited Dinner” series, Ruth’s Chris also hosts the Dame Hall of Fame, a ceremony that recognizes women whose hard work and dedication to the craft has transformed the cocktail industry. This builds off of Ruth’s Chris early brand history as the only upscale restaurant in New Orleans with an all-female wait staff.
  • Ruth’s Chris uses these events as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to and establish brand loyalty and recognition in an important sector of the hospitality community.


“Tales of the Cocktail is the only event we attend. We want to build a culture that extends across all of our regions – and Tales helps us do just that. It helps us understand what we stand for as a bar.”

“I recommend attending every time I talk to someone that isn’t doing it. Brands, suppliers, and bartenders can meet everyone they need to meet in the industry in one weekend – and do it right. If they are in the industry and aren’t at Tales, it is really a miss.”

-Helen Mackey, Vice President of Menu Strategy, Food & Beverage and Innovation, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

[Additional Quotes]

“I am constantly telling new brands that they need to attend Tales. I personally have been introduced to tons of new brands through attending events. Even if you have been previously exposed to a brand, you are able to gain additional appreciation by meeting the people behind the curtain. The application of context really helps.”

“Tales of the Cocktail allows our organization and our bartenders to receive an education and develop relationships they wouldn’t be able to anywhere else. We get to interact with the best of the best. It is the premier industry event in the world.”