18 Jul Tales Of The Cocktail Doubles Down On Its Support Of Puerto…
The nation’s largest annual cocktail conference will travel to Puerto Rico for the second year in a row to continue supporting the commonwealth’s rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, which runs the New Orleans-based convention of the same name, announced Tuesday that its international Tales on Tour program would return to the capital, San Juan, in April 2019.
“ The Foundation’s work in Puerto Rico is far from done. We are so thrilled to officially share that Tales on Tour will return to Puerto Rico for its next installment,” says Tales president Caroline Rosen.
Rosen and her team announced their 2019 destination on opening day of the main Tales conference, taking place at bars, restaurants and hotels in and around New Orleans’ French Quarter until Sunday. Since 2017, the foundation has hosted two scaled-down versions of the educational bartenders conference, known as Tales on Tour, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and one in San Juan. Organizers have chosen the locations to highlight little-known yet up-and-coming cocktail scenes, and selected Puerto Rico specifically because as Hurricane Katrina survivors they felt kinship with Puerto Ricans and wanted to assist.
As Rosen told me in March, “Flying in and seeing the blue tarps over the (affected) houses, we felt a kindred spirit,” she said. “We were blown away by the hospitality in this ‘sister city’ to New Orleans. We could see they were ready not only to rebuild but to let the world know they were ready for business.”
The March mini-conference succeeded in generating multiple positive stories in the tourism and food/beverage media about the storm-struck island and thrilled local industry workers for bringing attention, internships, visitors and hospitality role models to their town.
“ Having tales in Puerto Rico was very invigorating, ” says David Cid, the global master of rums for Bacardi, which calls Puerto Rico home and worked closely with the Tales team to sponsor events and bring conference attendees to tour the distillery. “Hurricane Maria impacted tourism and the food and beverage industry as a whole. Getting an economic boost and feeling our passion from so many foreigners who experienced the culture, food and Puerto Rican takes on craft cocktails inspired so many of us.”
As Brad Dean, CEO of the Discover Puerto Rico tourism marketing agency told me after Tales, “It elevated Puerto Rico’s spirits space to help raise awareness of the talent we have. The events provided visitors and locals alike with a taste of the innovative cocktails we produce all year long. Casa Bacardi is also the largest rum distillery in the world, located in our capital city. And the island is the birthplace of the piña colada. It’s an integral part of our cultural DNA.”
Bacardi is hosting several events at this week’s Tales, as is Puerto Rican competitor Serralles, which makes Don Q rum. La Factoria and El Batey, two prominent San Juan bars that Tales showcased this past spring, are hosting guest bartender shifts in New Orleans to celebrate the occasion.
“Tales showed a lot of people we are doing something great here in Puerto Rico,” said El Batey manager Mario Seijo. “We finally have our time of being in the spotlight. It’s very hard for us to get that attention.”
Working Bacardi’s La Gran Familia Bar activation in the French Quarter Wednesday, Cid welcomed the impending return of Tales to his hometown.
“All conventions bring stimulus to the economy. Tales drew attention to the fact that the bar community is growing in Puerto Rico. We hope to see a long-lasting impact.”