Those of you planning to attend this year's "Tales of the Cocktail" have finalized your travel plans, no doubt. But have you guaranteed you'll get the most from it? It's a given you will drink more than you intend, sleep less than you need and not eat with sustenance and health in mind. No biggie: Bartenders couldn't last a year behind the wood if these behaviors weren't easily assimilated into their lifestyles. Still, as someone who's been to all but two of these five day booze fests, following are a few cautionary reminders meant to help you get through it and leave with the sort of information and experience you'll look back on with pleasure, rather than regret:
1. Water, vitamins, supplements and aspirin: the four main ingredients. Some of us swear by the efficacy of B-12, milk thistle and other supplements to speed the alcohol through the system, minimize long-term effects and speed the comeback. Maybe we're foolish about the benefits of supplements, but to make it to the finish line, here's one occasion where I endorse toting around water bottles and constantly flushing. The humidity will get you even if the alcohol doesn't. And, unless your stomach objects, heavy drinking calls for aspirin, not acetaminophen, as the palliative of choice. Your liver will thank you.
2. Just say "No." Let's tell the truth: More than half of the drinks you'll be offered during Tales of the Cocktail wouldn't pass muster at your or anyone else's bar. Batching so many drinks at once is an uneven way to serve so many people, but it's the only way. So taste and toss and wait for the good stuff.
3. Friends don't let friends speak drunk. We've all been to seminars where the host or a panelist is tongue-tied with booze or head-noddingly hungover. If you're presenting, respect yourself, your skills, your hosts and your fellow attendees enough to put in the due diligence to get it right and log a few extra winks' sleep than you might have planned. Because you'll never get what you planned on.
4. Leave the Quarter. If for no other reason than to refresh yourself, get on a streetcar and ride to the end of the line, stroll along the river, visit the zoo or botanical garden or otherwise get away from the hotels, bars and restaurants. Spend an hour in an antique shop that DOESN'T have anything to do with cocktails. There's a lot in New Orleans worth your time, so check it out and come back to Tales fresher.
That's enough advice for the drinkworn. Seats are still available for some of the Pro-Series Seminars at Tales, hosted by Nightclub & Bar: "The Menu" with Angus Winchester and Sean Finter; "Occupational Hazards' with Charlotte Voisey, Kirsten Amann and Ryan Magarian; and "Let's Not Sugar Coat it" with Gina Chersevani, David Guas and Peter Smith. Sign up at www.talesofthecocktail.com.