TotC: Detox Edition

Darcy O'Neil :: July 13, 2009 4:28 PM

Tales of the Cocktail has come to a conclusion for another year. This time around the event was bigger than ever and the organization of events was a magnitude better than last year. Obviously, as the event grows bigger, there are growing pains, but this year I found it very easy to get around. That’s impressive for an event this big, and continuous improvement is all anyone can ever ask for, and we got it. The number of new attendee’s seemed pretty high and most of the veterans were pushed out of the Carousel Bar to other bars around the city. That’s a good thing, sometimes the Carousel Bar can be too easy and you spend the evening spinning around it circles, literally.

This years events were pretty much all new, or majority new content. There were some interesting sessions that explored the more technical aspect of bartending, like Cocktail Photography for people who want to bring great cocktails to the masses, through blogging or print publications. The Science of Shaking pulled a version of Myth Busters, but left a lot of opportunity to look at the many different aspects of ice, cocktails and technique. Of course I’m fully prepared to give this session some peer-review, stay tuned.

Some of the events didn’t meet my expectations, especially some labelled with “science” or “chemistry”. I suspect that comes from my experience in the science field and an expectation that labelling a session with the title would require actual scientific research and not be based on hearsay, conjecture and “personal experience”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I often use conjecture in my sessions. In Sugar: The Science of Sweet, I could not find any research to backup whether excess sugar intake, with alcohol, results in a more severe hangover. But, anyone who has small children that over-consume sugar laden treats (Halloween, Easter, Christmas, etc.) know the next morning is going to be Hell. I know personally that when I eat healthy, I actually feel like getting out of bed, but if I binge on sugar, my spirit is crushed in the morning.

Any presentation with science, chemistry or physics in the title should not be opinion though. Sure, using a technical term is cool and brings people in, but if you can’t back it up, your session might be empty next year.

Advice for Future Presenters

1. Don’t Say Uhhhmmmmmmmm

I’ve worked really hard to avoid that when I speak. Inevitably it occurs, but, a few here and there are fine—one in every sentence is really bad. Part of how I killed the “Uhmmms” was to personally listen for it, and think about it every time I said it. The problem is that I now hear it everywhere. It can actually make me want to run for the door when a presenter says it way to often.

2. Go to a Few Toastmaster Sessions

If you are not a public speaker, or only do it occasionally, it might be good to visit a local Toastmasters chapter. They are an extremely friendly group that can give you an opportunity to practice public speaking in a supportive environment. They’ll also give you some constructive criticism about your speaking style. If you are lucky, there will be a guy at the back of the room with an air horn ready to give it to you anytime you say Uhhhmmmm. I’ve spoke at Toastmasters once, but I think I’ll probably do some more since I found it very valuable.

3. Go Easy on the F-Bombs

Swearing only works if you use it rarely. If you change the pause at the end of a sentence with an F-Bomb or “G*! Dam It!” it’s funny the first time, but quickly looses its effect the more you use it. Think of a swear word as an exclamation point, bad writers use them to often, and poor speakers say it with wild abandon. Swear words are an exclamation of human emotion and humour. Saying them too often causes them to loose their value. So stop F*#!ing swearing!

See, funny and point making, but only because I don’t think I’ve dropped an F-Bomb on this site. Those who know me, know I rarely swear—unless it’s a really good joke or I’m really, really mad (which is rare).

The best part of Tales of the Cocktail is meeting people who read Art of Drink or attend my Tales sessions. I’m generally humbled by how many people come up to me any say they enjoy my writing/session. But, on the other hand it does give me an immense sense of satisfaction about my research and writing, and compels me to continue with even better material. So thank you very much for letting me know you like the site, and always feel free to stop me and say hi.

Tales Highlights

  1. Quietly slinking off to the visit Chef Chris DeBarr at his new restaurant, Green Goddess, and enjoying a great combination of food and drink. Then having Paul Clarke and his wife drop by, followed by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. Lot’s of great conversation and a perfect night before I flew home the next morning.
  2. Sitting at Coop’s Place eating lunch (Rabbit and Sausage Jambalaya) when a former Coop’s bartender incites all in attendance to sing “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. Keith Waldbauer*, Rocky Yeh and myself, seemed to have “won”, mostly on the back of Keith’s enthusiastic performance. The “winners” got a shot of Jagermiester, which actually worked medicinally for the spicy jambalaya.
  3. Mixohouse: A group of cocktail bloggers decided to rent out a house for the week and turn it into an oasis of booze and socialization.
  4. Drunken science talk with Eben Klemm at the French 75 Bar at 2AMish. The Science of Shaking started the conversation and then it exploded from there, about all things related to science and bartending. Chris (An Exercise in Hospitality) was “lucky” enough to sit in and listen. Probably sounded like two drunk guys talking in a foreign language. Jamie Boudreau was in there somewhere, but intelligently left early. Chris Hannah presided over the bar with great cocktails.

* Last year Keith won a “highlight” for helping out everywhere. This year he managed to weasel his way on to the highlight reel again. Basically, hang around Keith and something will happen.

Overall, another fun year, but now it’s time to recover and start looking forward to Tales 2010.


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