Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces Changes to this Year’s Conference and Spirited Awards®

Posted on: Aug. 13, 2020 | | By: Gia Vecchio

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (August 12, 2020) — For the first time in its 18 years’ existence, Tales of the Cocktail® will be held in an entirely digital format. During a virtual press conference, Caroline Rosen, president of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF), announced the plans for this year’s Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 and provided updates on educational programming, Beyond the Bar and the annual Spirited Awards®. The Foundation is incredibly pleased to be able to use this platform to support the global spirits industry during these unprecedented times. The free digital conference will be held from Monday, September 21 through Thursday, September 24, and the Spirited Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 24. 

The theme for Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 is Catalyst. When Foundation leadership chose this theme in 2019, they had no idea that 2020 would bring so many challenges, but now hope this gathering can serve as a spark for change across this global community. From seminars and live Q&As on how to navigate this new normal, to panels on various topics including hospitality, health, innovation and social issues, Tales will provide its global audience with an array of educational opportunities and special moments to reconnect.

Caroline Rosen, president of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation stated, “We are dedicated to our mission to educate, advance and support the industry. These three pillars will always be our guiding force and ensuring the Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 demonstrates that  ‘doing the work’ is not just a phrase, but a necessity to ensure we deliver on those principles. As Gary Regan reminded us a few years ago in his ‘Letter to a Young Bartender’ at a past Tales of the Cocktail®,  ‘Bartenders can change the world.’ Inspired by that idea, and knowing our industry can do just that, we are bringing our global community together to remind us how much stronger we are together.” 

The digital platform during Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 will be live and accessible across all time zones (via TalesoftheCocktail.org), and will host a library of on-demand pre-recorded videos, including seminars, distillery tours and brand education. Subtitles will be added to key programming for Spanish-speaking audiences. Tales attendees will also experience live seminar and panel discussions along with Q&As, brand experiences, wellness classes and a variety of entertainment. Mentorship Hours will be available under our Beyond the Bar programming during which a global group of industry leaders will donate blocks of their time for 15-minute virtual meetings to network and share ideas. 

Tales attendees can learn more about brand partners by visiting their designated virtual booths. The booths will house one-off experiences, including live chats and product reveals. There will also be additional programming focused regionally on bar recovery efforts in response to COVID-19. Seminar content will follow our existing educational tracks – Beyond the Bar, Business and Culture. The virtual seminars will provide attendees with the education opportunities they expect from our annual conference. 

Highlights include:

  • Beyond the Bar seminar hosted by Ian Burell titled “Underserved Communities and Entrepreneurship/Capital,” will focus on “breaking the glass ceiling” of the spirits industry for those who come from underserved communities. Chris Cabrera will investigate the spectrum of sexuality and self-identity in the seminar “The Queer Handbook for the Recently Deceased.”
  • During “CocktailSafe! Dangerous Drink Ingredients 101,” Camper English uncovers safety precautions when creating cocktails with the most misused, dangerous and/or illegal ingredients and techniques at the bar, including tobacco, activated charcoal, homemade tonic water, liquid nitrogen, and wormwood. Visit cocktailsafe.org to review the resources that Camper has compiled using his TOTCF grant.
  • The live panel “Creation, Equity, and Building a New Table” will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, hosted by Jackie Summers.
  • Regional Bar Recovery panels will explore the business of recovery and resilience in a new world, with renowned international speakers from Asia, Australia, the Middle East/North Africa, Europe, Latin America and the United States. In “Lessons from Asia” Indra Kantono and his panel delve into business recovery and new opportunities in uncertain times. In “Eight Lessons from Surviving to Thriving” Ara Carvallo and her panel present eight real-life case studies from Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina and Mexico. 

The 14th Annual Spirited Awards® ceremony will recognize the hard work executed by individuals and establishments in 2019. This year the Foundation has made some categorical changes to champion this community more thoughtfully. The philanthropy awards have been expanded to recognize the extraordinary efforts by altruistic individuals and bars in the community with respect to COVID-19. The Pioneer Award – which since its inception in 2012 has lived within the annual “Dame Hall of Fame” program – has now been folded into the Spirited Awards, and the winner will be announced during the September 24 ceremony. (Dame Hall of Fame remains a key focus for the Foundation, and will be celebrated again this year in virtual format, also on September 24.) Nomination criteria and deadlines can be found here. New to this year’s awards is an “International Bar Mentor” category. Previously one mentor was selected annually; yet, the Foundation felt an award for each an American and International recipient would paint a more accurate picture of what industry mentorship looks like on a global scale. The Top 4 Finalists will debut on August 24th. 

Tales realizes this is a reflective time for organizations around the world. In addition to planning a memorable conference in its 18th year, the organization also took the time to assess how best to position its team and global allies for future success. Together with Spirited Awards Committee co-chairs, Tales came to a consensus that it remains important to continue to celebrate the resilience of its peers and use its reach to amplify a range of voices, and that an awards ceremony is the best vehicle to fulfill these aims. To go further along this path, Tales has partnered with experts who help build equitable, inclusive and accountable workplaces, including the diversity and inclusion management consultancy TMI Consulting, Inc. and integrated PR and marketing agency Excellence & Presence Communications. Tales has also enlisted Dr. Khyati Joshi, a thought leader in the field of diversity and inclusion, to deliver the keynote speech for Tales of the Cocktail® 2020, as well as anti-bias programming.   

As a non-profit 501c3, the Foundation knows its job is to convene the experts, leverage a platform that fosters connection and meaningful dialogue aimed at driving progress and allowing a global suite of talent to learn from, mentor and build relationships with each other. The impact of COVID-19 on the industry and the global economy has been massive; building a virtual Tales of the Cocktail® conference this year to provide relevant and timely resources and programming, while supporting one another during one of the most difficult shared times in our lifetime, was paramount.


About Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. For more information on Tales of the Cocktail®, please visit www.tocstaging.wpengine.com

Media Inquiries:

Gia Vecchio, [email protected], 917.280.5043

Jeanette Brown, [email protected], 718.813.1147

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