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As the 11th Annual Tales of the Cocktail took place this past July, it was my 5th journey to one of the world's largest cocktail festivals. Bringing together industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts from around the world, Tales of the Cocktail is made up of hundreds of events including seminars, tastings, Spirited Dinners, cocktail competitions and parties. There are so many things to do and it's impossible to do everything. Even when trying to pick and chose carefully, schedules fill up fast and no matter how hard we try, we still were running from event to event.  Here are the highlights from our 2013 trip. Day 1: The Perfect Respite by Perfect Purée of Napa Valley - What a perfect way to start the day - with Perfect Puree smoothies, hangover helpers, antioxidant nibbles and massages. We were relaxed and at peace, ready to face the day.   Auchentoshan Whisky & Whiskers - From breakfast, we were whisked away on a Pedi Cab to Aidan Gill for Men for an Auchentoshan dram, a cocktail and a hand massage. Going from one massage to another was definitely a treat but the best part were the Auchie Highballs with Auchentoshan Classic, cucumber soda and RX Auchie bitters.
Every year the United States Bartenders’ Guild and DIAGEO host the yearlong cocktail education program World Class U.S. Over the past 5 years, more than 11,000 bartenders from 50 countries have participated. And each year one bartender is named the "DIAGEO Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year." At Tales of the Cocktail this year, Diageo World Class U.S. took us on a cocktail journey through the Mediterranean. Concoctions were mixed up by World Class finalists and their bartender mentors. As this year’s global final took place along the French Riviera, each room featured cocktails from a different tropical local: South Pacific, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean/East China Sea, Caribbean and Mexico/Central America. With 33 bartenders, there were 33 cocktails to taste......so the journey began. We started in the back of the book and worked our way from room to room, tasting each cocktail and collecting stamps along the way.
After arriving in New Orleans around midnight Wednesday night, we checked in and headed out for a drink. We are in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail after all.  We spent a few hours seeing friends and enjoying a couple of drinks but headed to bed around 3am in order to get ready for the first full day at Tales. 10:00 AM - Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey Tasting Event First stop of the day - a fun Irish Breakfast with entertainment, tasty food and of course tastings of Kilbeggan. An Irish Coffee and an Irish Breakfast Shot later we kissed the blarney stone and headed out.

10:30 AM - Checked in and picked up my Media badge and event tickets and visited the swag room for some samples (40 pounds worth).