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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.
As we prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts, it is a time to give thanks for what we have. It is also a time to give. And I want to take a moment to applaud the bartending community who continues to give and give and give to help others, whether individuals or strangers. I am proud be affiliated with this industry and community of people who like to have fun but never lose sight of helping those in need.  Here are four remarkable examples. Helping Children “This business is what we have chosen as our career.  We do something that makes us happy and I love bartending. We provide a service to people on a daily basis. But, I want to find meaning in what I do, something I can pass on to my family and kids,” explained Josh Harris of The Bon Vivants, the San Francisco-based cocktailing company.  They created Pig & Punch, a party with whole roasted pig, trash cans of punch and t-shirts for sale that follows a day of volunteering at a local charter school.  Started three years ago at Tales of the Cocktail, this year they organized the event three times around the country - in May 2012 at Manhattan Cocktail Classic, in July 2012 at Tales of the Cocktail and in October 2012 at Portland Cocktail Week.
We all know that bartenders like to have a good time.  But our hard-working bartending community is also socially conscious and is giving back to the community, one party at a time! Three years ago when a group of bartenders went to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, they decided to throw a casual bbq in the park with cocktail punches and pork.  But in 2010 New Orleans was in the wake of the oil spill and they wanted to be able to help.  How could a group of bartenders help?  Pig & Punch! Created by the Bon Vivants, a San Francisco-based bartending team, the plan was to first put in the manual labor and then also give back by doing what they do best - throwing a party.  In 2010, eleven volunteers spent time helping to build a house.  "By being hands on, it links the people to the place that need help" explained one of Pig & Punch's founders, Josh Harris of The Bon Vivants.  At the free bbq, open to the bartending community as well as local inhabitants, tshirts were sold with the Pig & Punch logo, raising $1600.  The money benefited the KIPPS Charter Schools arts and music programs.  The following  year, in 2011, 42 volunteers helped to build and paint houses in New Orleans. Then at the bbq, 550 tshirts were sold, raising $6600 for the Kingsley House.