The countdown is on, with Edinburgh gearing up for a busy five days of Tales on Tour. In between packing our bags for the event, Imbibe managed to catch up with Mike Aikman (co-owner of Bramble, Lucky Liquor Co and The Last Word) to discover his tips for the best seminars and events to head to.
'It’s really exciting to have this event on our doorstep. And I’m looking forward to seeing all these people in our bars and restaurants. It’s been a long time coming, but also has snuck up on me,' he said.
And it turns out that Aikman and Stuart McCluskey (The Bon Vivant, Devil’s Advocate, El Cartel) were instrumental in persuading the Tales organisers that Auld Reekie was the place that they had to hold the next event at.
'We found out that the Tales organisers were coming to Edinburgh, and heard a rumour that they were scouting a couple of places in Europe to host a Tales on Tour. Stu McCluskey and I had been to Tales the previous year, so we offered to take them around and show them the best of the city to try and win them over.
'We then helped get a group of bartenders together to talk about what they’d like to see in terms of events and seminars if it came here. They were impressed with the city, and decided to bring it here.'
A coup indeed. For those of you heading there, Aikman has kindly put together his guide to the must-visit events…
Mike Aikman’s seminar picks
'I saw this at Tales in New Orleans, presented by Jake Burger and Tristan Stephenson. It’s really funny and educational, and I’ll be going back to see it again.'
Talking Rot: Rancio, Scotch and MADness
'It’s great they’ve got someone like Broomy [Dave Broom] presenting here in the homeland of whisky.'
Big Fish, Small Pond
'I’m involved in this seminar, which will be looking at Edinburgh and its success in producing world-class bartenders and brand ambassadors.'
'I put this talk by Dave Arnold forward as a suggestion for something I wanted to see. Unfortunately it clashes with one of the seminars I’m involved with, so I’m not even going to get to see it!'
'Another panel I’m involved with, alongside Georgie Bell, Ryan Chetiyawardana and Tom Walker where we’ll be looking at Scotch in cocktails and how it’s not used as much in drinks as it should be.'
The parties to head to
Welcome Party with William Grant & Sons
'The welcome party is the big one in New Orleans, where everyone queues for hours just to get in. This is on a smaller scale, but I’m sure it will be good.'
Trash Tiki at The Last Word
'Iain Griffiths doing his sustainability pop-up. There’s talk of a top chef coming, and there’s going to be a great really loud band playing too.'
Monkey Shoulder – Lazy Old Fashioned Party
'Grant Neave knows how to party.'
Glenmorangie & Ardbeg featuring Bramble and Blackrock
'Jillian Vose from the Dead Rabbit is partnering with Ardbeg at Bramble on the Wednesday, and the Blackrock guys are partnering with Glenmorangie on the Tuesday. It’s going to be great.'