Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces Registration for the 2021 Tales of the Cocktail® Festival

Posted on: Jul. 18, 2021 | | By: Gia Vecchio

NEW ORLEANS, LA (July 19, 2020) – Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is pleased to announce the opening of registration for participants and media for the 2021 Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) festival, which will take place in a hybrid digital and in-person format from September 20-23. Headlining the program will be the conference’s signature educational initiatives featuring more than 60 digital seminars, Beyond the Bar activations, the Dame Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, an all-new Diversity Distilled Career Fair in response to widespread industry labor shortages, the return of Meet the Distillers, and the annual Spirited Awards®. The festival will feature premier programming that supports the global spirits industry with complimentary digital offerings, plus limited access to in-person events in key markets including Tales’ host city, New Orleans. The 2021 conference, themed “Community,” is now available for free registration through the TOTCF website.

“We knew we needed a primarily digital format for this year’s Tales of the Cocktail so our global colleagues could attend without having to worry about safety, travel restrictions or leaving their bars or brands during an ongoing period of recovery,” shared Tales of the Cocktail Foundation CEO Eileen Wayner. “Historically, we’ve seen people fly in from over 20 countries to experience Tales and we wanted to maintain the global diversity synonymous with Tales. That said, we are delighted to be able to start adding physical programming in select markets across the world to create in-person connection points for those who can safely convene in their communities.”

Kick-Off: Toast to Tales 2021 and Keynote

The conference will kick off with the annual Toast to Tales 2021 hosted at the Sazerac House in New Orleans. On Monday, September 20, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation in partnership with Sazerac House will host a private reception and broadcast the event on the Tales platform with featured toasts from Sazerac teams in three satellite locations.

Following Toast to Tales, Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, an expert on joy and wellbeing, will be joined by host Sandrae Lawrence for the keynote for Tales of the Cocktail. Dr. Simon-Thomas, the science director of the Greater Good Science Center, an organization dedicated to science-based insights for a meaningful life, will set the tone for the festival with her address on The Science of Enduring Happiness. The keynote will explore strategies for reclaiming joy and happiness in the wake of the pandemic, cover key constructs from happiness science like positivity, resilience, generosity, gratitude, and awe, and dispel some common myths about why some people are happier than others. Emerging from an unprecedentedly difficult time, this discussion will seek to provide listeners with the insights and tools to pave a pathway to enduring happiness.

Educational Seminars, Roundtable Discussions, Q&A Sessions, and More

Tales of the Cocktail will feature more than 60 educational sessions, including seminars, roundtable discussions and more across Tales’ three education streams (Business, Culture and Beyond the Bar), featuring over 250 industry leaders. Programming can be accessed through the Tales of the Cocktail digital platform and will be available for complimentary streaming both during and following scheduled sessions via a library of interactive programming.

Highlights from this year’s slate include:

  • Breaking Bias: Disrupting Unconscious Decisions That Lead to Unexpected Consequences, moderated by Tony Chatman
  • Digging for Peat: A Geeky Dive into the Production of Peated Scotch Whisky, moderated by Felipe Schrieberg
  • Mexican Cocteles: Beyond the Margarita, moderated by James Simpson
  • Psychological Mindfulness and Drinking, moderated by Hoorie Siddique
  • Texas: The Wild West of Whiskey, moderated by Nico Martin
  • The Mothers of Spirits: The Unwritten History of Women in the Industry, moderated by Jessamine McLellan
  • The Pioneers: How Non-Alcoholic Spirits are forging a new path through innovative channels, moderated by Justin Lew

The Foundation will also host 30 seminars in a panel format this year. Highlights include:

  • Agave Geeks Unite: Tequila Deep Dive, moderated by Jesse Estes
  • Cacao: An Understanding of Its Origins and Uses, moderated by Charlotte Voisey
  • Battle of the Classics: The Old Fashioned, moderated by Poppy Croft
  • Escape: The Drinks Trend of the Year, moderated by Jacob Briars
  • Koji Cocktails: From “Simple” Syrup to Enzyme Magic, moderated by Don Lee
  • Nepotism and Tokenism: Two Sides of the Same Coin, moderated by Chris Cabrera 

A variety of Roundtable Discussions will tackle pressing issues facing the industry right now, including industry recovery, race, equity and inclusion, as well as looking ahead to the future. 

Roundtable topics will include:

  • A New Operational Paradigm: Building a Personnel-Focused Future, moderated by Laura Green
  • An Imperfect Guide to the Art of Celebrating Cultures, moderated by Anna Nguyen and Salvador Periban
  • Diversity in Spirits: (Re)Claiming our Narrative as BIPOC and Multicultural Industry Leaders, moderated by Joseph Solis
  • Rum is Ready for Its Flowers: Decolonization, Paradigm Shifts, and a New Path Forward, moderated by Celine Bossart and Monique Brackett 
  • The Needed Evolution in the Return of Bars, moderated by Kyle McHugh
  • The Power of No: Creating Boundaries & Protecting Your Energy, moderated by Allison Parc

Marquee Programming: Dame Hall of Fame, Spirited Awards, Meet the Distillers, Speed Rack Championship, and Meet at Tales

  • Spirited Awards: The 15th annual Spirited Awards Ceremony will announce winners for the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Pioneer Award, Timeless U.S. Award, Timeless International Award, and the five awards within the Writing and Media categories. The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on Tales’ digital platform on Thursday, September 23 with viewing parties offered at participating bars worldwide; Jewel of the South will host the New Orleans viewing party on September 23.
  • Meet The Distillers series, moderated by VinePair:  Back for TOTC 2021, running Monday, September 20 – Wednesday, September 22! Bringing together the greatest minds of each spirit category, Tales has invited eight Master Distillers, Blenders, and Makers to join in 45-minute Roundtable discussions with their peers to discuss products, processes, and what makes their brand unique. 
  • Dame Hall of Fame: A virtual ceremony will be held for the 2021 inductees on Thursday, September 23. Dame Hall of Fame is a celebration of leaders who have made unique and lasting contributions to accessibility and intersectionality within the global hospitality industry. 
  • Speed Rack Season 9 Championship: In partnership with Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, Tales will play host to the long-awaited finals for Speed Rack’s 9th season on Wednesday, September 22. The in-person competition is geared at raising funds and awareness for breast cancer while promoting equality in the spirits industry. The finals will have limited attendance in New Orleans; a broadcast of the competition will be available on Tales’ complimentary digital platform on Thursday, September 23. 
  • Meet at Tales: Q Mixers, America’s leading premium carbonated mixers company, is the Official 2021 Mixer for Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. As the world begins to reopen and acclimate to a hybrid digital and physical gatherings, Q Mixers and TOTCF are inviting the global drinks industry to Meet at Tales as a way to inspire and impact the community. The Meet at Tales program is virtual, and offers six lucky TOTC participants one-on-one meetings with some of the industry’s most influential leaders, from entrepreneurs and distillers to bar-owners and educators, providing an opportunity to connect with and learn from leaders in the industry – which is particularly important after this past year. Each of the selected participants will receive a cocktail kit including Q Mixers product and a spirit for the industry leader’s signature cocktail that they created for the occasion, as well as an ice tray and jigger. After TOTC 2021, the Q Mixers Industry Leaders, including Jordan Silbert, founder of Q Mixers, Elliott Clark, Apartment Bartender, Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist and more, will select one person from their one-on-one meetings for a one hour follow-up meeting to continue their conversation. In addition, Q Mixers will host a series of Mix at Tales Happy Hour virtual events, moderated discussions featuring two of the industry leaders who will share their experience and field questions, all while enjoying cocktails made with Q Mixers! The personalized cocktail kits, which include Q product and spirit for the industry leader’s Q cocktail,  as well as an ice tray and jigger, will be awarded to two lucky participants at each happy hour. Applications to participate will be open from July 19th through August 19th, 2021.

Day of Service + Diversity Distilled

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation and Red Bull will host a Day of Service benefitting New Orleans Community Fridges to provide meals to at-risk community members in need of extra food for their families, as many hospitality workers in New Orleans frequent these grassroots fridges and pantries. Tales of the Cocktail’s team, along with local volunteers, will prepare, pack, and deliver the food to the community fridges prior to its 2021 Tales of the Cocktail Conference in September.

Additionally, participants are invited to join Diversity Distilled for a digital career fair powered by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. A host of employers will join TOTC on the conference app to review resumes, post job listings, and share insight into post-pandemic hiring practices. Employers and job seekers are invited to register for the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation conference free of charge, and check out the career fair in the left-hand navigation of the app. 

Beyond the Bar

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is proud to share the return of its ongoing mental health and wellness arm, Beyond the Bar, which focuses on the holistic bartender and addresses critical issues within the industry from substance use and abuse to sexual harassment, race, equity and inclusion. Beyond the Bar programming serves to highlight and explore the diverse topics that make a well-rounded drinks industry professional and digs into complex and sometimes difficult topics in order to challenge the industry to be more equitable while supporting the community through present day obstacles and challenges.

Beyond the Bar highlights for the Tales of the Cocktail 2021 conference include fitness and mindfulness activations like Amie Ward’s Building Community Through the Body series, seminars like Chockie Tom’s Indigenous Visibility and Cultural Empowerment in the Drinks Industry, and interactive events like Hannah Lanfear’s Cocktail QTs present Queer Dance Party.

Virtual Booths + Tales Partners

There will be close to custom partner booths on Tales’ digital platform, which will allow guests to learn about products and brands, watch brand videos and chat with the exhibitors. Sponsors will provide additional opportunities for attendees to learn, engage, and network via virtual events, panels, and brand education seminars. 

Tales is proud to partner with conference sponsors to bring a premier festival experience to New Orleans and beyond. 2021 Underwriting Sponsors include: William Grant & Sons, BACARDÍ, Beam Suntory, plus official partners: Perrier, and Q Mixers, the Official Mixer for Tales of the Cocktail Foundation in 2021. 

The full schedule and talent line-up for Tales of the Cocktail 2021 will debut August 9, 2021. To sign up for Tales of the Cocktail 2021, please visit tocstaging.wpengine.com to register for free. Media can apply for press credentials here.



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. 

Media Inquiries: 

Foxglove Communications

Gia Vecchio, [email protected], 917.280.5043

Hunter Smith, [email protected], 803.397.8878 

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