For 15+ years beverage professionals from around the globe have gathered in New Orleans for the annual Tales of the Cocktail convention. Originally designed to be a small bartender’s convention, Tales has grown into a mammoth event attended by as many spirit enthusiasts as industry professionals. Tales offers a wide-array of seminars and tastings but some believe it has lost its focus due to the influx of corporate sponsorship and a Big Easy party atmosphere. Its a great event no doubt but its shear size has swayed many smaller producers to look for something different.
For those looking for something different, Angel Postell of Home Team PR and Events in Charleston, SC decided to organize BevCon. She structured the event so smaller national and international beverage producers could come together to learn, network, taste, and discuss all things beverage. In addition to the conference, attendees would also be able to enjoy Charleston’s world-class drinking and dining scene.
The BevCon schedule was tightly packed beginning with a number of beginning with excursion trips on Sunday through the conference’s end Wednesday afternoon. Attendees began each day with breakfast and beverages along the convention hallways which led to three days filled with seminars, round-tables, and Q&As. Each afternoon ended in the expansive tasting room where dozens of beverage producers (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) shared their delightful wares. Organizers blessedly allotted a few hours each evening for exploration of Charleston’s culinary delights. And each evening ended with BevCon faithful roaming the peninsula enjoying a series of Bar Takeovers staffed by knowledgeable mixologists from America’s hottest cocktail bars.
It was a tremendous week that led me into discussions that were well out of my “only rum” comfort zone. It was a tremendous learning opportunity observing the interaction between publicists and writers, hearing about entrepreneurial pitfalls, and enjoying the company of my fellow beverage aficionados. A bit thank you goes out to Angel and her staff for putting on a terrific festival and for letting me cover the event. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to cover it again next year.