Mixed reaction to Tales of the Cocktail’s Edinburgh return

31 January 2018

The uncertainty surrounding Tales of the Cocktail looks as if it’s having an impact on 2018’s Tales on Tour in Edinburgh, with a number of bars and brands withholding their support for this year.

Central to any decisions to participate or not is the race row events of last year, which culminated in founders Ann and Paul Tuennerman stepping down towards the end of last year.

Changes are afoot across the board at Tales, with the sale of the impending event to the Solomon Group in New Orleans and the announcement of new venues, format and ticketing structure for Edinburgh. Plans for the modified event this year may have been announced, but Tales of the Cocktail has so far declined to name any of the involved bars or brands.

It’s a great thing to be involved in for highlighting the talent in the city, but in light of last year’s events, it would probably be best to focus attention on the city

Matt Cusworth

William Grant, a brand partner in 2017, has confirmed that it won’t be involved in 2018’s event. ‘William Grant & Sons welcomes the recent news that the Tales of the Cocktail brand is under new ownership, and is fully supportive of the Solomon family’s stated intent to support local communities, as well as the bartending industry as a whole. For 2018, WG&S will not activate at the Tales on Tour event in Edinburgh, however, will be working closely with the new owners on a global level to build our relationship with the brand through 2018 and beyond,’ the company said in a statement.

Bramble and sister venues The Last Word Saloon and The Lucky Liquor Co won’t be participating in 2018 either. ‘We made a decision as a company not to get involved in Tales on Tour a few months back,’ co-owner Mike Aikman told Imbibe recently.

Other brands and bars were yet to confirm at the time of writing, and the Tales of the Cocktail team in New Orleans, who will be organising the Edinburgh incarnation of the event, declined to comment on the subject.

‘We will probably be involved with them, but to be honest the majority of our events were during Tales, but not involved with them. So it’s likely to be the same story again,’ said Panda & Sons owner Iain McPherson.

Hoot the Redeemer’s Matt Cusworth commented: ‘It’s a great thing to be involved in for highlighting the talent in the city, but in light of last year’s events, it would probably be best to focus attention on the city and our bartenders this year. To be honest, that’s what it should be about anyway.’

Edinburgh is set to host its second Tales on Tour this year
Edinburgh is set to host its second Tales on Tour this year

A single day of seminars

The 2017 event in Edinburgh, the first year in a two-year residency, was the largest Tales on Tour event to date. This year, ticketing will change from an all-inclusive package at $329 to a per-seminar system, at $65 each. A day pass, covering three seminars, comes with a 10% discount, and all ticket purchases come with access to other evening events.

‘In 2018, we are switching to the a la carte ticketing option to better serve our attendees,’ organisers told Imbibe. ‘This option allows bartenders to select one, two or three seminars to attend while still getting access to the full schedule of special events and Dynamic Duos.’

The main venue for the event in Edinburgh is changing this year too, to The Principal Charlotte Square, where registration, seminars and a Meet the Distillers event will take place.

Tales on Tour 2018 kicks off on Saturday 7 April with a pair of welcome events, followed by a Happy Hour Meet the Distiller event on the Sunday, and a full day of seminars on the Monday. Unlike 2017’s two days of seminars, 2018’s event will only consist of one day, with six seminars over three time slots. These will be the most popular seminars from Tales of the Cocktail New Orleans 2017.

A letter of intent to buy Tales of the Cocktail was signed late last year by Gary Solomon Jr, of New Orleans ‘entertainment design and production firm’ Solomon Group, and restaurateur Neal Bodenheimer. They are reportedly planning to run it as a non-profit organisation.

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