Tales of the Cocktail is a non-profit organization with local, national, and international chapters that work “to educate, advance, and support the bartender community.” They host an annual conference that features a series of educational sessions and awards. These events are designed to spread awareness about issues around diversity and inclusivity and find new ways to support and affirm marginalized people who work in the industry. The 2021 conference marks the 19th annual TOTC event and will be held in New Orleans on September 20-23.
What to Expect at Tales of the Cocktail
As you might expect, this year’s conference will look a little different. It will feature a hybrid format so that people have the option of attending events in-person or virtually from the comfort of their homes. One upside of this COVID-era conference format is that people around the world will have access to free digital programming. In-person attendees will also enjoy free admission, however, tickets to the Spirited Awards and dinner event will range from $250-$300. Last year’s conference was digital-only and boasted 6,132 attendees from 100 countries.
Those interested in attending the conference and learning more about the schedule for this year, should visit the TOTC registration portal. Both digital and in-person attendees can register online. The conference welcomes people who work in all aspects of the alcohol and beverage industry. Everyone from bartenders and sales and marketing experts to distributors and brand owners can be found mingling at events. Of note, you will need to be of legal drinking age to attend.
This year also marks the introduction of new events and the return of conference favorites. For the first time, the Diversity Center Career Fair will be held before the conference to help address labor shortages that have been affecting the industry. Participants will also be happy to know that both the Meet the Distillers and the annual Spirited Awards have returned to the schedule. In addition to these events, there will be over 60 digital seminars, the Dame Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and Beyond the Bar Activations.
The Theme for 2021 Tales of the Cocktail Conference
“Community” will be the theme for this year’s conference. Tales of the Cocktail is looking forward to highlighting how the international drinks industry has come together to share knowledge and demonstrate compassion during these trying times. They describe their mission as “To be innovative, collaborative, and nimble with the goal of true advancement of not only our craft, but our culture.” The drinks industry has shown tremendous tenacity and resilience throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic and this is something they want to celebrate during the conference.
For people in the drinks industry, winning a Spirited Award is one of the most prestigious honors. The first Spirited Awards were held in 2007. The awards cover every aspect of the industry and are given to products, professionals, brands, and establishments. This year’s awards will look a little bit different as they try to set a new tone of hope for the future. Again, the emphasis will be on community and seek to celebrate instances of excellence in the industry.
Attendees can get the most out of the conference by attending one of the many Spirited Awards Regional Roundtable Discussions. The Discussions will be facilitated by 19 Regional Co-Chairs and 200+ Regional Committee Members. The goal is to identify people from various regions who have influenced how the industry has dealt with and recovered from the challenges of COVID-19. Roundtable Discussions will include:
- Community presented by Pernod Ricard
- Digital Experiences presented by Pernod Ricard
- Drinks Culture presented by Perrier
- Industry Advocacy presented by Pernod Ricard
- Innovative Pivots presented by CAMPARI
Story of The Dame Hall of Fame
One of the signature events of the conference is The Dame Hall of Fame, which began in 2012 and provides a platform to recognize leaders who made the hospitality industry more accessible and intersectional. These people have served as mentors and made groundbreaking achievements that have set an example for new leaders to aspire to.
This year, the Foundation and Ladies for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), have made the move to be more inclusive and respectful of the LGBTQIA+ community by replacing the use of the word “woman” with “individual.” The Dame Hall of Fame is also committed to recognizing marginalized leaders in the industry who may not have been recognized in more traditional awards and platforms.
Since 2020, The Dame Hall of Fame has aimed to celebrate the accomplishments of non-binary individuals and those within the trans community, as well as those who identify as women or womxn. These people have made significant contributions towards improving accessibility and intersectionality and will be honored at the conference.
The Pioneer Award
The winner of the Pioneer Award will be celebrated at both the Dame Hall of Fame event and the Spirited Awards. This award is given to a nominee who has helped foster mentorship in the industry and worked to make a more inclusive and equitable environment for everyone.
Why You Don’t Want to Miss Tales of the Cocktail
Even if you aren’t able to make it to New Orleans to experience the Tales of the Cocktail conference in person, be sure to register and take advantage of the free digital programming. This is a must-attend event for anyone in the alcohol, beverage, and hospitality who is concerned with equity. Fortunately, digital programming makes it easy for anyone around the world to attend at their convenience.
What is Tales of the Cocktail Foundation?
Tales of the Cocktail is a global non-profit foundation that works to educate, advance, and support communities where the drinks industry operates.
What is on the agenda for Tales of the Cocktail 2021?
This year will be a hybrid event with education initiatives, 60 digital seminars, The Dame Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the Spirited Awards, and other events.
What is the Dame Hall of Fame?
It is a way to celebrate industry leaders who have made significant contributions to accessibility, inclusivity, and intersectionality.
How many people attend Tales of the Cocktail?
In 2020, 6,132 people from 100 countries attended the all-digital event.
What is a Spirited Award?
The Spirited Awards recognize industry excellence by celebrating people, products, and businesses, who have made positive contributions. A few examples of award categories include: “Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing”, “Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book”, and “Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series.”