New Orleans cocktail festival comes to Edinburgh: here's why you should attend
Ahead of Tales of the Cocktail's European debut in April, we pick out some of our favourite events
Although Tales of the Cocktail is well known for being an annual meeting point for international spirits professionals, industry outsiders shouldn't be put off. The festival, which is the largest of its kind, was also created with the general public in mind, to excite and inform them about the art of the cocktail.
Tales began in 2002 as an afternoon New Orleans bar crawl for anyone with an interest in the area's growing craft cocktail scene. Fifteen years later, the now five-day festival attracts bartenders, distillers, spirits professionals and enthusiasts from all over the globe with a programme of seminars, tastings, networking events and more.
Every year they head off on tour, choosing city's across the world that are renowned for their innovative, crafty cocktail scene. Having previously visited Vancouver, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, the premier cocktail festival has chosen Edinburgh for its 2017 run, its first European appearance.
By night, bars across the city will be shaking up cocktails for thirsty visitors and by day, bartenders and enthusiasts from around the world hold a series of seminars and talks. To help you make the most of the tour, we've picked out events that should appeal to both the average punter and those wanting to dig a little deeper.
Events for the average punter:
Kick things off with a welcome breakfast; a chance to find out what's in store for the next five days. Meet fellow cocktail-lovers over a Fernet or two and start planning your itinerary.
Voyage of Buck, Sat 1 Apr, noon–2pm.
Dynamic Duo Events
Five of the city's most innovative bars have teamed up with well-established brands to run themed events throughout the festival. Each bar has been challenged to create a one off cocktail menu that's only on offer over the five days. The Bon Vivant's menu features Dewar's Whisky, Panda & Sons features Bacardi Rum and Lucky Liquor will be mixing up cocktails with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. The Dynamic Duo events are open to the public.
Various locations, various dates throughout the festival
Edinburgh Gin: Art of the Cocktail
An opportunity to celebrate bespoke distillation with music from local acts in an old biscuit factory in Leith, now used as an art and fashion hub.
The Biscuit Factory, Mon 3 Apr, 7–10pm
Hendrick's Gin Distillery Open Day
With so many craft lovers in the capital for Tales, distillers across the country are opening their doors to give festival-goers an insight into the distillation process. Hendrick's are taking visitors out to their distillery in Girven, Ayrshire by the coach load, giving them the chance to meet Master Distiller Lesley Grace for an insight into what makes their gin so exquisitely odd. After lunch and entertainment you'll be safely returned to Edinburgh.
Hendrick's Distillery, Girven, Thu 6 Apr, times vary
Events for industry insiders:
Cocktail Kingdom Pop Up Shop
Those on the hunt for some slick new barware should head to Cocktail Kingdom's pop-up shop at The Assembly Rooms. As a premier manufacturer and distributor of professional barware, the shop's a bartender's dream with various items from their classic collection, as well as some new additions available to purchase.
The Assembly Rooms, Sun 2–Tue 4 Apr, times vary.
#Instadram – The Benefit of Drinking Shots
A seminar exploring the importance of nailing that Instagram shot. Experts in photography and drinks image styling highlight how a well-lit image can have great impact on enticing people into your bar.
The Assembly Rooms, Mon 3 Apr, 1.30–3pm
Small Fish in a Big Pond
Influential figures in Edinburgh's bar scene talk about how the city's cocktail culture formed, and what it takes for bars to maintain their reputation. Known as the UK's second cocktail city, Edinburgh is constantly striving to keep up with and outshine the admirable work happening in London. Andy Gammell, founder of Drink Cabinet, Craig Harper from Fever Tree UK, Stu McCluskey and co-owner of Bramble, Mike Aikman talk about the city's journey.