Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Announces Schedule for Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 Digital Festival

Posted on: Aug. 31, 2020 | | By: Gia Vecchio

Registration for the complimentary cocktail conference goes live today at 10 AM CST

NEW ORLEANS, LA (August 31, 2020) – For the first time in its 18-year existence, Tales of the Cocktail® will be held in an entirely digital format. This year’s Tales of the Cocktail will continue to host the educational programming, Beyond the Bar activations and the annual Spirited Awards®, hallmarks for which Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is known. The Foundation is pleased to be able to use this platform to support the global spirits industry during these unprecedented times with complimentary programming. The Foundation felt it was paramount to make the conference free for attendees in light of the hardships faced by so many in the hospitality and spirits industry in the wake of COVID-19. The digital conference, themed “Catalyst,” will be held from Monday, September 21 through Thursday, September 24. Registration for all programming will go live today at 10 AM CST.

Dr. Khayti Joshi will host the keynote for Tales of the Cocktail 2020. Professor and published author, Dr. Joshi, is supporting the Foundation through anti-bias training, providing equity and inclusion consulting. Dr. Joshi is a thought leader whose social science research and community connections inform policy-makers, educators, and everyday people about race, religion, and immigration in 21st century America.

Tales of the Cocktail will feature 29 pre-recorded educational seminars across Tales’ three education streams (Business, Culture and Beyond the Bar), featuring over 80 industry leaders. Seminars are pre-recorded to ensure a global audience can readily access the content. Several seminars will be followed up with Live Q&A sessions to allow audiences to engage with the presenters and moderators. 

“We are honored that so many industry luminaries are lending their time and talent to make this caliber of education and programming available to the global spirits community,” said Caroline Rosen, President of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “This has been an incredibly challenging year, and while it’s not quite the same as gathering together in New Orleans, we are grateful to have this platform and time to be together to collectively forge a path ahead and become a catalyst for change.”

Highlights from this year’s pre-recorded seminar slate include:

  • Bar In-Depth: Death & Co, NYC presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, moderated by Alex Day & David Kaplan
  • CocktailSafe! Dangerous Drink Ingredients 101 presented by Bombay Sapphire & Patrón Tequila, hosted by Camper English (Tales of the Cocktail Grant Recipient – 2018)
  • The Man Behind James Bond: Ian Fleming presented by Ford’s Gin, moderated by Noah Rothbaum, featuring Simon Ford, Chris Blackwell, Shannon Mustipher, and Philip Greene
  • The Museum of Rum Distillation: Exploring the Ancient Secrets of Rum-Making moderated by David Wondrich, featuring Alexandre Gabriel
  • The Queer Handbook for The Recently Woke presented by Grey Goose Vodka, moderated by Chris Cabrera, featuring Ezra Star, Deborah Vantrece, Alejandro Mazza, Sagan Gray and, Tiffanie Barriere
  • The Value of Innovation for Bars and Bartenders presented by Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester, moderated by Reinhard Pohorec, featuring Alexis Belton, A-K Hada, and Iain McPherson
  • Zero Proof 101 presented by Brown-Forman’s PAUSE Campaign, moderated by Evelyn Chick

The Foundation will also host 18 live seminars in a panel format this year. Highlights include:

  • Brands Launching in a Pandemic World moderated by Lynnette Marrero, featuring Ila Byrne, Michael Vachon, Nandini Khaund, and Nima Ansari
  • Creation, Equity, and Building a New Table moderated by Jackie Summers, featuring Yannick Benjamin, Samara Rivers, and Lynnette Marrero
  • Supporting Employee Behavioral and Mental Health moderated by Patrick S. Bordnick, PhD, MPH, LCSW, featuring Jeffrey Goldring
  • The Bartender Pivot: The Importance of Adaptability moderated by ms. franky marshall, featuring Pippa Guy, Aaron Joseph, and Danil Nevsky
  • Tipping For Equity: Shifting the Balance Within the Hospitality Industry moderated by Lynn House and Tracie Franklin, featuring Lauren Paylor, Mary Palac, Tiffanie Barriere, and Chelsea Gregoire

A handful of Roundtable Discussions, available to a limited number of 16 attendees each, will tackle pressing issues facing the industry right now, including COVID-19 recovery, race, equity and inclusion, as well as looking ahead to the future of the industry. Roundtable topics will include:

  • Avoiding Performative Wokeness and Instituting Real Change in Hospitality – A discussion by Black industry leaders on how the global Black Lives Matter movement should affect the hospitality industry. 
  • Creating Pathways: Women in Spirits– Women have been working in the spirits industry for generations. From career pathways to innovations, challenges to victories, we all have our own anecdotes and inspirational lessons to share. Some of the industry’s most fascinating females – distillers, blenders, ambassadors & brand founders  – will discuss their experiences in the business.
  • Evolution of Competitions in a Digital COVID World – Competitions over the last few years have been opportunities for craft bartenders to distinguish themselves, gain more opportunities in the industry, and practice creativity. Many things have changed during the global pandemic and events have shifted to online. This roundtable will discuss the evolution of competitions in a digital world.
  • Integrating Systems in your Organization that Support Employee’s Ability to Thrive – What can we do to make our industry safer for those who work in it? What are some steps we can start taking immediately at the ground level to start rebuilding what we do into a field and practice in which people can grow and thrive? How organizations can support its personnel with an emphasis on social and mental health will be discussed. The conversation will be supported by social and organizational psychological theory and practice. 
  • Multivenue Bar Operations in a Pandemic World – Industry leaders sit down to discuss the challenge of multi-venue bar operations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and talk re-opening strategies, safety practices, and employee wellbeing with a goal of shared best practices. 
  • The Future of N/A – Looking ahead to the changing and growing landscape of non-alcoholic drinks and the ‘trend’ that is here to stay.

For the first time ever, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation will introduce a mentorship program to its Beyond the Bar programming. Beyond the Bar focuses on the holistic bartender and addresses critical issues within the industry from substance use and abuse to sexual harassment, race, equity and inclusion, and  mental health and wellness. More than 60 leading bar and spirits professionals have volunteered their time for 15-minute mentorship sessions. Attendees can sign up on a first-come, first served basis through the Tales event platform beginning September 14th. There will also be physical activities, from BACARDÍ’s Rum Shaker dance tutorials to BarSpar with Bartender Boxing Organization Presented by Tequila Cazadores, The International Karaoke Showcase presented by Patrón Tequila, Wild Turkey Trots from Wild Turkey, and Campari’s Virtual Relay Race and online classes for runners. 

There will be close to 50 custom partner booths on Tales’ digital platform, which will allow guests to learn about products and brands, watch live videos and chat with the exhibitors. Sponsors will provide additional opportunities for attendees to learn, engage, and network via live virtual events, panels, and brand education seminars. 

Last, but certainly not least, is this year’s Spirited Awards will host virtual announcements of select categories on Monday, September 21, The Raise a Glass: 2020 Spirited Awards Preshow will be hosted on September 24th at 3pm CST and the awards presentation will begin at 4pm CST. For more information, visit www.tocstaging.wpengine.com

To sign up for Tales of the Cocktail 2020, please visit here to register for free. A link to a digital guide for Tales of the Cocktail 2020 can be found 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. Tales of the Cocktail® 2020 will be held digitally from September 21 – 24, 2020. For more information on Tales of the Cocktail, please visit www.tocstaging.wpengine.com

Media Inquiries: Gia Vecchio, [email protected], 917.280.5043

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