Are you with me so far? I was talking yesterday with a physics doctoral candidate who was applying the laws of physics to cocktails. It sort of made me lose my grasp on my normal thread of reality. Apologies if I'm rambling/start to ramble.
Here are a few tips from lessons learned this year for avoiding the clusterfucks at Tales.
RULE 1: BEWARE OF TEXT MESSAGE IDEAS
In the past a splendid way to congregate with good friends was to network on text messages. Word would come in via digital handheld messaging that people were headed to DBA, or Coop's, or some other spot some influential person decided to go to and then messaged a few friends of his or hers. This enabled the expert Tales attendee to connect with many dearly beloved drunk friends. Laughter, mayhem, kisses, and hugs would ensue.
This method is now fraught with peril. Some decided to face the peril, only to find that is is far to perilous. The Tales it is a growing, and these days a text message ripple turns quickly to a Tsunami. The destination point becomes a, yes, here comes the word again...clusterfuck.
On Tuesday evening of this week, I was witness to some of this text messaging. Instinctively and somewhat surprisingly, I surmised what was going to happen and did not chase the tail of the Tales message wave. Messages reached me reading, "Fancy Pants party! Fancy Pants party! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Fancy Pants party! Fancy Pants party!"
Or something to that effect.
Just a bit later, as I continued to sip a sazerac at Arnaud's French 75 Bar made by Chris Hannah, another burst of messages came in, saying something along the lines of, "Fancy Pants party...so crowded. Fancy Pants party...long line. Fancy Pants party...wouldn't let me in. My pants were not fancy enough."
Amused, I continued sipping and awaited the next idea for the evening, which would be merely theoretical for myself but a reality for many of my dearly beloved. Shortly thereafter, messages began reading, "Maple Leaf Bar! Maple Leaf Bar! Ooh! Ooh! Maple Leaf Bar! Maple Leaf Bar!"
Or something to that effect.
Just a bit later, as I continued to sip a Creole Cocktail at Arnaud's French 75 Bar made by Chris Hannah, another burst of messages came in, saying something along the lines of, "Maple Leaf Bar...so crowded. Maple Leaf Bar...long line. Maple Leaf Bar...wouldn't let me in. My leaves were not mapley enough."
Amused, I continued sipping and awaited the next idea for the evening, which would be merely theoretical for myself but a reality for many of my dearly beloved. Shortly thereafter, messages began coming in reading, "The Saint! The Saint! Ooh! Ooh! The Saint! The Saint!"
At that point I flushed my phone down the toilet. Moments later I came to my senses and retrieved and revived it via mouth to USB port resuscitation. But I put it on airplane mode and walked over to the Old Absinthe House for a beer.
The point is, there are now too many people at Tales to bother following the pack. If you get word of some place "everyone" is going to, assume 4,000 other people are getting the same word as you, and that spot is going to be a, yes... clusterfuck.
Also remember that the text message you received started with some individual. It wasn't a cosmic firework of inspired brilliance that shot into the sky, exploded, and tinkled down onto everyone simultaneously. Someone decided to go do something, told someone else, and then we all played a game of telephone. So make your own idea, tell your friends, and go there. The rooms aren't big enough for us all anymore, dear ones. Be a pioneer. Start your own informal gathering of people somewhere where they will serve you liquor.
RULE 2: GO TO THE TASTING ROOMS THAT ARE LESS BOOZY SOUNDING
Yesterday I was nearly trampled to death by the masses trying to get into the Oxley Gin tasting room. I managed to survive thanks to my physical prowess, sheer cunning, and media badge. In the meantime, I drank me some gin and ate me some delicious gin sorbet.
Downstairs, Fentiman's was also hosting a tasting room. There was plenty of space down in that room, time to chat with the people serving drinks, relax and watch some old episodes of The Avengers. Why the discrepancy in attendance? Well, my own personal theory is that it is because Oxley is high proof gin and Fentiman's is soft drinks.
You would think that given the amazingly high availability of booze at Tales that people wouldn't be in any hurry to consume mass quantities of it. You don't have to seek it out, the booze will find you, and it will eat your face. Believe me, I know this. Yet I swear to a benevolent and loving god that people attack the booze dispensary points with a maniacal fervor. We offered some punch made with Maker's Mark at our book signing yesterday for Left Coast Libations. The recipe yields about 100 ounces of punch, or 50 small cups. The punch was gone in 15 minutes. So Anu Apte whipped up an improvised punch (with top secret ingredient!) that yielded about 200 ounces. That too was gone in moments.
Here's the secret folks: first of all, Fentiman's ain't dummies. They're mixing their products with gin, bourbon, rum, scotch, etc. They know you want booze and they want you to know they're products can mix with a variety of boozes. So yes, you can go to the tasting room of the company known mostly for ginger beer and still get your drink on. And you can do it without feeling like you're at a Who concert in Cincinnati (sorry Cincinnati for bringing up old wounds).
The same phenomenon happened today wherein the 4 Roses Bourbon (high proof) tasting room was more crowded than the waiting room outside the pearly gates, and the Marie Brizzard (lower proof) tasting room was merely well attended. In this case, however, the 4 Roses Bourbon tasting might have been so popular due to the presence of Dave Shenaut, who rumor had it was sporting a kneck beard sure to draw in and wow the masses. Naturally, those who attended for this purpose were disappointed, as Dave had shaved the K.B. "Kneck Beards are over," he told me. Freaking Portland hipsters man. Just can't even keep up with what's cool in the world's coolest city anymore.
RULE 3: NEVER LEAVE YOUR HOTEL ROOM
Actually, never mind. You can't do that. Get out there, make friends, have fun, and be a hero.
(editor's note: all rules and lessons mentioned above, upon publication of this article, are hereby ruled dated and irrelevant. Tales has once again grown exponentially and all rules have changed. Thank you for reading, you have just wasted 10 minutes of your life. As Dave Shenaut would say, "Forging Your Own Path At Tales is over." Freaking Portland hipsters...)