Industry News

After 15 Years, Tales of the Cocktail Reflects on Its Industry Impact

On the eve of our 15th Anniversary, our founders Ann and Paul Tuennerman look back at Tales' past accomplishments.
TOTC's founder Ann Tuennerman. Photo by Jamie Griffin.

In anticipation of Tales of the Cocktail’s upcoming 15th anniversary festival (July 19-23, 2017), our founders, Ann and Paul Tuennerman, share 15 of the festival’s key accomplishments that transformed the bartending community, the global drinks scene, and the way the world views the bartending profession.

They range from injecting $100 million into the local New Orleans’ economy to creating the Spirited Awards, the “Oscars” of cocktail awards shows that recognizes outstanding achievers. While we’re always looking forward to the future of our industry, we can’t help but take this milestone moment to look back at all we’ve accomplished together and reflect on our overall industry impact.

These 15 accomplishments reflect the Tuennerman’s vision, leadership, and stewardship of the festival, which has become a focal point and driver of today’s cocktail renaissance that continues to reverberate globally.

“While we tend to always look forward at Tales of the Cocktail, it is important, especially at this milestone moment, to reflect on the great strides we have made together,” says Ann Tuennerman. “This is truly the industry’s festival and Paul and I are excited to collaborate with our industry friends and colleagues to make it better and more relevant in future years. Truly, the best is yet to come.”

1. Cultivating Up-and-Coming Bartenders

Launched in 2008, the Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) has provided approximately 300 up-and-coming bartenders from across the U.S. and globally the chance to learn alongside industry veterans at Tales of the Cocktail.

2. Promoting a “Greener” Cocktail Industry

Tales of the Cocktail is promoting sustainability in the bar industry by introducing Sustainability Spirited Awards that recognize “green” practices and will host a day-long Sustainability Summit focused on this topic to showcase the latest thinking and best practices.

3. Celebrating the Women in the Bar Industry

In an industry that is traditionally male-dominated, Tales of the Cocktail broke new ground in 2012 with the Dame Hall of Fame that recognizes women who are making a mark today and serve as tomorrow’s role models. Inductees include Audrey Saunders, Lisa Laird Dunn, Ivy Mix, Lynnette Marrero, Charlotte Voisey, Julie Reiner, Bridget Albert, Lynn House, Pamela Wiznitzer, and Meaghan Dorman.

A woman with her arms folded on a bar. Lynn House has defined bartending excellence with charm, charisma and culinary affinity. (Photo: Courtesy of Lynn House.)

4. Celebrating the Stars of the Bar Business in Oscar Awards Style

Since 2007, the Spirited Awards have become the industry’s premier awards show, annually recognizing the best in the business from bars and bartenders to distillers, marketers, and writers. Winning a Spirited Award and the global visibility it confers has become universally recognized as a way to supercharge a career, business, or a product.

Spirited Awards The 2016 Spirited Awards

5. Establishing the Official Cocktail of New Orleans: The Sazerac

Louisiana Senate Bill No. 6 honors the history and significance of the Sazerac by naming it the Official Cocktail of New Orleans, the first city to have an official cocktail.

Sazeracs on a table. The Sazerac, New Orleans' official cocktail, relies on the flavor of anise, which tells you something about every New Orleanians' favorite herbal flavor. (Photo: bhofack2 /iStock)

6. Focusing on Education, Industry Advocacy, and Financial Support

In 2006, the creation of The New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS) reset the goals and mission of Tales of the Cocktail to focus on educational programming, as well as industry advocacy and financial support.

7. Showcasing Top Echelon Insights into the “State of the Trade”

Through its “State of the Trade” program, Tales of the Cocktail has become a forum for the top echelons of the bar and spirits industry to share their insights on where the business is headed. It led off in 2016 with Bacardi’s Global CEO Mike Dolan. This coming year, Sazerac Company’s Global CEO Mark Brown will take center stage.

Mark Brown Mark Brown will share insights from his 40+ year career and his thoughts on the future of the spirits industry at the 2nd Annual State of the Trade.

8. Embracing the Imperative of Diversity and Inclusion

This year, Tales of the Cocktail formed the Diversity Council to identify the issues of inclusion that the bar business faces, and developed actionable strategies to address them at all levels of the industry.

Asare-Appiah and Haralson Asare-Appiah and Haralson will lead the newly-formed Diversity Council in developing actionable recommendations to address diversity issues within the cocktail industry.

9. Relaunching TalesoftheCocktail.com as a Vibrant Editorial Website

In 2015, TalesoftheCocktail.com was relaunched as a vibrant editorial website brimming with original, independent content to bring ideas, insights, discussion, and debate to bartenders and spirits professionals all year long.

10. Transforming Tales of the Cocktail into a Year-Round Phenomenon

Tales 365 was created in 2014 to bring more year-round Tales of the Cocktail content to members around the globe, while also offering a scholarship program for members to underwrite seminars and education.

11. Taking Tales of the Cocktail on the Road, Globally

Beginning in 2011, Tales of the Cocktail took its proverbial show on the road, creating a satellite festival in cities around the world, with bi-annual stops in Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Edinburgh. Tales on Tour has been a powerful means of bringing the festival directly to those in other countries and continents.

Brand ambassadors Charlotte Voisey and Joseph Mortera toasting at a dinner Charlotte Voisey and Joseph Mortera, ambassador for Hendrick's Gin in Mexico, giving the welcoming toast with Ann Tuennerman at a 2017 event at Tales of the Cocktail on Tour in Mexico City. Photo by Jennifer Mitchell.

12. Channeling $100 Million Into the Local New Orleans Economy

Since 2008, Tales of the Cocktail has had a measured impact of close to $100 million on New Orleans and the surrounding region. The festival has become an economic driver for the local economy, from mom & pop shops to time-honored drinks and dining institutions.

13. Preventing Violence in the Bar Industry

This year, Tales of the Cocktail entered into a ground-breaking partnership with Green Dot, a violence prevention organization, to create a bystander training program and online resources specifically for the bar industry.

14. Rallying for Gender Equality in the Bar Industry

In 2016, Tales of the Cocktail released a white paper examining gender equality in the cocktail industry to accompany a seminar that dealt with relevant issues and offered suggestions for addressing them.

A woman speaking at a podium. Julie Reiner shares sage advice she wishes she'd been given when she began bartending.

15. Spotlighting the Crème de la Crème of the Hospitality Industry

In 2015, Tales of the Cocktail started its Keynote Speaker series, welcoming business and thought leaders in hospitality, including Danny Meyer, Grant Achatz, and Albert Adrià to deliver an opening address.

Ann Tuennerman Founder of Tales of the Cocktail, Ann Tuennerman is a serial entrepreneur focused on hospitality.

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