In an attempt to save Tales of the Cocktail after the massive controversies surrounding Ann and Paul Tuennerman, the festival is in the process of being sold to Gary Solomon Jr., with the support of his family, and Neal Bodenheimer. We were told that the Tuennermans and their companies would not be involved or benefit from Tales if the deal goes through, “They’re no longer involved in any way,” said a rep for the group. Although we do not know the amount of money on the table, but rumors in the industry say that it was somewhere along the lines of $8 million dollars. Earlier today, we received the following press release about the deal. Of course, the question remains, can Tales of the Cocktail actually be saved.
December 22, 2017 — New Orleans natives, Gary Solomon, Jr., founder of Solomon Group, with the support of the Solomon Family, and Neal Bodenheimer of Cure and Cane & Table, two of New Orleans’ most beloved bars and restaurants, have entered into a Letter of Intent to take over Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC), the beverage industry’s premier cocktail and spirits festival.
With Bodenheimer’s 15+ years in the cocktail industry, Solomon’s experience with production and events, and the Solomon Family’s deep-rooted philanthropic work in the New Orleans community, they plan to grow TOTC into a resource that directly benefits the spirits industry as well as the city they call home.
Now, truly as a non-profit organization, TOTC will have a diverse grant and advisory committee which will consist of industry notables hand-picked by Solomon and Bodenheimer. The proceeds will benefit issues facing both the industry and the city, including education and addiction treatment.
Keeping TOTC in New Orleans was essential to both Solomon and Bodenheimer, as the festival generates a total economic impact of over $18 million in July, traditionally the city’s slowest time of the year.
“We intend to build on the foundation of this world-class event and to breathe new life into Tales of the Cocktail by making it more experiential and attracting a wider audience of industry professionals to join us in New Orleans,” says Solomon. “This event is vital to the city’s tourism industry, and losing it would have dealt a significant blow to the New Orleans community.”
With a desire to create increased access to education and greater diversity within the industry, Solomon and Bodenheimer plan to put an emphasis on educational elements throughout the multi-day event. They will also focus on enhancing the attendee experience, making it more accessible to everyone in the spirits industry.
Bodenheimer, who has been involved in TOTC for the past 10 years, looks forward to taking the helm alongside Solomon. The two appreciate everything the previous owners have done to build the festival, as well as everything it has brought and meant to New Orleans.
“We are very excited to step in and save an event that is so critical to what we do as professionals,” says Bodenheimer. “People from all around the world attend Tales of the Cocktail. The Solomon Family and I want to keep it alive for years to come — not only for the city of New Orleans, but for the industry as well. It’s our time as spirits and cocktail enthusiasts to all come together in one place and learn from one another.”
The parties anticipate closing the transaction in early 2018. The closing is subject to the satisfactory completion of normal due diligence and the execution of a mutually agreeable purchase agreement.