Last year, I got up early in the morning, in the New Orleans heat, and went for a 5K run. And I will again this year. I did this because my friend Dragos, who now also happens to be my boss, asked me to. He is the kind of guy that can ask you to move a sofa and instead of saying “how about we hire someone to do this,” you actually think “oh, this could be fun.” I’m sure we all have friends whose pervasive positivity infects us like this. I was not a runner at the time but 5k is basically as hard as a very agressive, 30 minute game of Golden Tee. I did this run because my friend is committed to fitness in the alcohol, beverage & hospitality business and I wanted to help him.
I am not particularly committed to fitness. I very much enjoy soft, ripe cheeses, cured meats and I have on more than one occasion added foie gras to things unnecessarily.
But I am committed to staying alive.
I don’t want to get into my personal beliefs on the afterlife, but I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t think there’s Epicurean edge to it. When I was in my 20s, and I got health insurance, I probably went to the doctor for a physical. He said, “you’re fine, come back when you’re 30.”
I went back when I was 30 and he said,
“What do you do, unnecessarily ad for foie gras things? Get your cholesterol under control.”
He basically said if I don’t want health problems later in life, I need to choose between alcohol, bread or dessert and stop letting work or perhaps Netflix be prioritized over exercise. He made no comment about glazed doughnut flavored vodka, but I got the gist of what he was saying. And I found a good compromise in riding my bike too the farmer’s market to get those soft cheeses.
Anyone over 30 that works in the alcohol business has either had their doctor’s appointment when they are told this and if they haven’t, it’s because they’re too afraid to go to the doctor. I’m not going to “out” other spirits professionals that have had issues with this, that is their own business. However, I think you’ll find out who those people are, because you see them in the cramped workout rooms in hotels— they want to be able to stay in this industry.
I ask people about Tales of the Cocktail, “what classes are you going to?” The answer often comes back is, “I don’t really want to buy more here to network and meet people.” This saddens me a little bit because I feel like if you’re interested in cocktails and spirits, there are precious few books to read that have new information. New information is coming from the seminars, that’s actually where next year’s books start. Regardless of that, and not to deride the networking wonder of the Old Absinthe House or Erin Rose, because you will indeed meet everyone you need to know there. But I must point out that the relationships formed at these fine establishments at 3 AM have a tendency to be as ephemeral as plastic cups from which they serve cocktails. And that’s why I think you should get up in the morning and go for a run. If you don’t want to get up at 8 AM to go for a run to make yourself healthier, get up at 8 AM to go for networking.
On Saturday morning, at Tales of the Cocktail, if you decide to wake up early and going to 5K run with me (and a bunch of other people that don’t become total hedonistic monsters until after noon) then you’ll be in a group of people that are committed to longevity in this industry.
That is a group of people with whom you should be surrounding yourself.
Novo Fogo, my current employer is putting on a 5K run again this year. And I would be there, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it, even if my friend didn’t ask me. Aside from the fact that I am committed to balance in our “wet” lifestyle in the hospitality industry, I admire the people that stay balanced like this. I follow one of Seattle’s best bartenders on Instagram, and he only post pictures of where he’s running, it’s very inspiring. I will frequently look at his post before I go out on my “little baby’s shins still hurts while he goes jogging,” runs. His commitment to balancing his lifestyle is something that I can clearly see, will give him a long-lasting career in this business.
If you’re going to Tales to barf in an alley, I think you’ll find that you can actually do that without buying a plane ticket. If you’re going to Tales, to make friends, take care of them by inspiring them to do well for themselves. And if you’re going to tales to network, pick people that are committed for a while.
I looked up last year’s TotC on my phone and the following is an actual chronological photo shoot of what I did in the 24 hours on either side of this run. I was quite literally in the worst shape of my life when I did this, so if I can do it then so can you.