There were seminars, take overs, pop-ups and some very late nights, but none of New Orleans’ sticky heat. Just a fine Edinburgh mist and a backdrop of stunning Gothic architecture to set the scene of this year’s Tales of The Cocktail on Tour.
As the first under the festival’s new owners Gary Solomon Jr and Neal Bodenheimer, this Tales on Tour was crucial to restoring the faith of the UK bar industry in both the organisers and their celebration of the cocktail world. Luckily for them, with a successful lineup of six seminars, including speakers from Asia, America and Europe, covering topics such as drinks creativity, music and social media, the serious side of Tales went seamlessly.
Last month, Solomon and Bodenheimer told Imbibe of their desire to use the festival to 'show what Edinburgh is all about', and this spotlight on the city was felt once the notebooks and laptops had been put away and the evening events, supported by a multitude of brands, kicked off. Bars such as Kin, Hyde & Son, Panda & Sons and Voodoo Rooms all hosted visiting bartenders and brands.
What featured heavily this year was a focus away from the liquid itself as panels got into the nitty gritty of other aspects of the complete hospitality experience, including diversity in the industry, the use of music in bars and gaining press coverage for venues.
This even extended into the after-hours activities with Mr Lyan himself Ryan Chetiyawardana bringing his restaurant Cub to town with the Edinburgh Food Studio and Belvedere vodka. Across the two nights, sumptuous dinners were hosted focusing on fresh, sustainable dishes, as well as their pairing drinks. Tim Etherington-Judge’s Healthy Hospo also featured with St Germain’s Camille Vidal hosting a yoga class to encourage mindfulness and both physical and mental health in the industry.
Considering that the festival was purchased by Solomon and Bodenheimer just four weeks before Tales on Tour, the festival still felt fleshed out, if not as busy as last year, mostly thanks to the bar community of Edinburgh who played welcoming hosts to all the brand teams, media and travelling bartenders.
With the smaller festival working well for the city and still attracting a good-sized crowd for the seminars and pop-ups, Tales on Tour can now begin to rebuild itself to its former fully-packed schedule with the industry back on board to support the festival.
Despite the drama that has unfolded with the famous Tales Of The Cocktail, Edinburgh managed to feel like a step in a new direction – something, no doubt, Solomon and Bodenheimer will be pleased about as they turn their attentions to the approaching headline event in New Orleans.
Imbibe will be covering more of the seminars in-depth later this week.