Tales Wrap Up
All good things must come to an end and it is time to conclude my Tales posts, so here's the wrap up. Tales of the Cocktail has become one of the coolest events around, and those who participated would probably agree. I don't know anyone who had a bad time, and even if things don't go as planned, you really don't care because it seems everything works out anyway. The reason for this is the people who show up. All great events are dependent on the personalities involved. Let me explain.
Whenever you get a very large group of people together all sorts of things can happen, good and bad. Now, when you add copious amounts of alcohol and limited sleep, things can really get interesting. Then do it for five days in a row. Just watch an episode, or two, of any reality TV show and you'll know that under certain conditions people don't always respond positively.
Tales seems to be a real exception. I wondered about this last year, and I've given it some thought this year. Here's what I think; it's the bartender personality.
One of the comments I constantly hear about Tales is how friendly everyone is. Well, as a large number of the participants are bartenders, whose job it is to talk to people, it makes for a very social, friendly, environment. Plus, these are the top bartenders in the world so they are good at what they do.
Being a great bartender requires a unique personality. You have to be able to handle a fast paced environment, have physical stamina, enjoy the company of strangers, flirts and wierdo's, function counter to the human bodies natural clock (i.e. late nights). You need to maintain a coherent thought process for making the dozens of different cocktails and taking orders fired at you non-stop, for hours on end. Then throw in a little math, add an owner who is constantly stressing, maintain your sense of humour, deal with drunks, take very short breaks, if any, plus a dozen other things, and there you have it, the bartender.
Bartending isn't for everyone, but the people who do it well have a list of qualities that make them perfect for large gatherings.
The bartender personality is one side, but the other side is the people who enthusiastically promote good cocktails. The Bolger community (inside joke) is a good example. The best description I've heard so far is Tales of the Cocktail is a "Star Trek convention for cocktail nerds". I'm not sure if that is an insult or compliment, but it's funny and hits the nail on the head. I need to find a picture of the "Tiki Squadron" and you'll understand.
For me Tales is about the people. I read a comment about someone being to shy to introduce themselves to Gary Regan. Well, Gary is a great guy, with a wicked sense of humour, and anyone could walk up to him and he'd be happy to have a quick chat. Buy him a drink and he'll follow you home though, do so at your own risk. Everyone at Tales seems to be this way, which is what makes it a great event.
Everyone at Tales is happy to chat about their profession, to anyone who is interested. Obviously, the week is busy so conversations are short, and every year I miss someone, just because of time constraints. But if you are thinking about going next year, do it, you won't regret it.
Things I'd Like to See at Tales
With such are large pool of bartending talent, I'd love to see an event that actually lets the bartenders loose. Most of the session, or events, are sponsored and the cocktail menu's are limited and usually premixed. Having an event where you get all of the bartenders together, in shifts possibly, where every sponsors product is at the bar. Then just let people order from a longer list of cocktails, all made to order, would really showcase what bartenders are capable of doing.
Ya, it could turn into a train wreck, but most of the bartenders are serious enough, about what they do, that it isn't likely that they'd embarrass themselves infront of their peers.
Anyway, another great year at Tales and if I didn't get a chance to talk to you this time around just come next year and track me down.