Generally, I get down to New Orleans once, maybe twice a year. A lot can happen in 365 days. New bars open, old bars close, and bartenders tend to move to different places of employment a lot. So it is with life. I was talking with my New Orleanian friend Rhiannon Enlil (who currently works at Cure and The Erin Rose) at Tales this year, and I realized that when I first met her several years ago, she was engaged at Loa. This got me to thinking (always dangerous when I’ve had a few cocktails) that even though we often expect things to stay the same day after day, they rarely do.
We all need change in order to grow, both as humans and as skilled people in the bartending industry. Just imagine what it would be like if the only cocktail reference we were using today was good ol’ Prof. J.T.’s 1862 Bon-Vivant’s Companion. Granted, there are some excellent drinks in there, but what if no other cocktails ever developed beyond the several dozen within its pages? It seems crazy, but some people are stuck in their ways.
That’s why Tales of the Cocktail is so important to people in our industry. It pushes us beyond our comfort zones and boundaries with forward thinking seminars on the latest techniques, re-discovered insights that may have been all but forgotten, and even as I discovered, new places to discover these things.
Whenever I am in NOLA, I do a lot of walking. I have never rented a car, only taken a cab a few times. With Tales celebrating their 10th year, they really outdid themselves with having events in many new parts of the city. I probably got more exercise in five days than I have in the last five months. This was a change for me, and it had a positive effect on my life. Which is why, I have decided that change is one of the most beneficial influences we can have. Heaven forbid that I should spend the rest of my days drinking just my favorite cocktail in my favorite bar, served by my favorite bartender. Yeah, it can be great, but ultimately it won’t take me anywhere new. There is a whole world to explore out there, and for some of you it may begin at Tales.