Tales of the Cocktail®, the industry’s leading non-profit cocktail festival, is thrilled to name Dale DeGroff and Audrey Saunders as the Ambassadors for Tales of the Cocktail® 2017. Not only have these legends of the craft contributed tremendously in kickstarting the modern craft cocktail movement, they have also been constant contributors to Tales of the Cocktail® lending their guidance and expertise at events and behind the scenes.
“Can you imagine our cocktail world without Tales? I can’t,” said Audrey Saunders, founder of New York’s legendary Pegu Club, “I love Tales. At its very core, it is a heart beating with hospitality, and I’m very proud to be representing it this year.”
Dale DeGroff is known as a legend within the cocktail industry, earning the nickname of “King Cocktail” for his role leading the modern cocktail revolution. Behind the bar at New York’s famous Rainbow Room during the 1990’s, DeGroff spurned the syrups and soda guns of the time, focusing on classic cocktail recipes and methods of preparation. DeGroff’s influence has spanned three decades, training and mentoring countless bartenders as well as receiving innumerable awards for his work, including a James Beard Award for Wine & Spirits. DeGroff wrote The Craft of the Cocktail (2002) and The Essential Cocktail (2009), founded the Museum of the American Cocktail, and currently helps to train the next generation of bartenders with the prestigious BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource) program.
Audrey Saunders was one of those protégés of Dale DeGroff that has gone on to create her own lasting impact on the cocktail industry. After studying under DeGroff and partnering with him at special events in The Rainbow Room and later at Blackbird, she started her own establishment, opening the now-legendary Pegu Club in Manhattan. Under her guidance, the Pegu Club has been responsible for fostering some of America’s finest bartenders and future bar owners, earning its reputation as the “Harvard of Mixology” as the New York Times referred to it. The famed cocktail lounge has won countless awards and recognitions, including Esquire’s “Best New York Bar,” Tales of the Cocktail® Spirited Awards for “Best American Bar” and “World’s Best Bar,” and a James Beard finalist nomination in both 2012 and 2013. Saunders herself has achieved the same level of recognition as her establishment, receiving awards such as Bon Appetit’s “Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year,” Spirited Awards for “World’s Best Bartender” and “World’s Best Mentor,” and being recognized as one of the 25 most influential cocktail personalities of the last century in 2010 by Imbibe.
“I am deeply honored to be an Ambassador of Tales of the Cocktail, and even prouder still to be representing it along with my mentor, Dale DeGroff,” said Saunders. “Dale introduced me to Tales, and I can still remember it in its infancy. In those days, we were a small, budding industry with everything to learn. Every year since, not only has Tales had its fingers on the pulse of our community, but has also seamlessly adapted to our growing needs. If we recognized a need for something one year, you can bet it was incorporated the very next.”
Audrey Saunders and Dale DeGroff are the most recent in a long line of diverse and highly esteemed Tales of the Cocktail® Ambassadors. This mentor-protégé duo succeeds previous ambassadors Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon (2016), Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Annene Kaye (2015), Joe and Ellen Fee (2014), Joe Gendusa (2013), Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal (2012), Dickie Brennan Jr. and Steve Pettus (2011), Wendy Waren (2010), Robert Hess (2009) and, finally, the original ambassador, Kevin Brauch (2008). Through the Ambassador program, Tales of the Cocktail® seeks to commemorate both professionals and enthusiasts of the spirits industry for their commitment to Tales of the Cocktail® and the overall cocktail and hospitality communities. During their one-year tenure, Ambassadors will act as representatives for Tales of the Cocktail®. They will be honored at the Toast to Tales Kick Off on Tuesday, July 18th on the front steps of the Hotel Monteleone.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Ann Tuennerman, Founder of Tales of the Cocktail. “I feel like Dale and Audrey are ambassadors for the entire industry. I’m honored that they will serve Tales this year,”
This summer, Tales of the Cocktail® will return to New Orleans this July 18-23 with more than 200 events designed by and for members of the cocktail and spirits industries. For more information about the Ambassador program, or to learn more about this summer’s event, visit TalesoftheCocktail.com
About Tales of the Cocktail®
Founded in 2002, Tales of the Cocktail® has grown from a small gathering of cocktail lovers into the world’s premier cocktail festival. Each year the international spirits industry is welcomed to New Orleans for a week of seminars, tastings, networking events and much more. With 200+ annual events developed specifically for bartenders, distillers and other spirits professionals, Tales of the Cocktail® is the industry’s annual meeting place for the exchanging of new ideas, products and techniques. Tales of the Cocktail® also produces a number of other events and programs such as Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour, Tales 365, Tales of the Toddy and Daiquiri Season, all to further the mission of supporting and growing the international cocktail community.
About the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society
Tales of the Cocktail® is produced by the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society (NOCCPS), a non-profit organization committed to supporting, promoting and growing the cocktail industry in New Orleans and around the world. In addition to offering opportunities to learn and acquire new skills through Tales of the Cocktail events and Tales 365, the NOCCPS invests the proceeds back into the spirits industry. Since 2008, the NOCCPS has invested more than $886,000 into programs like the Cocktail Apprentice Program, a tuition reimbursement program, the Apprentice medical aid fund, educational scholarships and a new health and wellness program for members of the hospitality industry.