Wow! TOTC is back, bigger and better. There are thousands of people in sweltering NOLA to engage, celebrate, sample and converse on a common theme…cocktails! Seemed like half the people on the plane down from NY were attending the conference. I made the mistake of consuming a bit too much alcohol at a dinner Tues. nite with some friends from Holland and it took all of yesterday to recover. Not the best way to start a week of drinking.

HQ for the event is the historic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, and if you just stand in the lobby of the hotel long enough, you’ll see EVERYONE in the business pass by. My day started with lunch with Paul Clarke, Darcy O’Neil and some of the folks from Vessel in Seattle. I’m speaking on Paul’s panel on blogging on Friday and we mapped out a plan for the presentation…it’s sold out and the room holds 250 people. Darcy and I sort of geeked out the geeks on cocktail arcana and ended up engaged in a fascinating conversation that bored everyone else to tears.

I’m here with our spirit SMM guru, Sam Harrigan and we spent the afternoon looking for some ingredients for a recipe contest review we were holding later in the evening.

It’s great fun running into folks from all over the world who share the same interest…Tiare Olsen is in from Sweden, Jay Hepburn from London, our Dutch friends are here, the Chartreuse people are in from France, Mike Ginley was here with clients from Japan.

First official event was the Tito’s Vodka tasting…Tito Beveridge (yes, that’s his real name) has done an awesome job of breaking the rules and making new ones on the way to bringing his artisanal vodka onto the national stage.

We attended the TOTC opening reception sponsored by Beefeater…what a blowout. Kudos to Shawn Kelly and Marissa Frisina of Pernod Ricard…they pulled out all the stops. Then it was on to the CSOWG (Cocktail and Spirits Online Writers Guild) house on Rampart Street where many of the bloggers gathered for some break time and where we selected the winner for the OVAL vodka infusion contest. Way to go Marshall with a honey, cilantro infusion! Some 50 or so spirit bloggers were in and out including Camper English, Matt Robold, Gabriel Szasko, Darcy, Sean Mike, Marshall Frawley, Stevi Deter and…and…and. Oh, and Gabe’s wife Joanna did some spectacular hostessing…those burger were fabuloso!

Lindsey Johnson and Leo Borovskiy of Lush Life NY hosted a “Tweet Up” just down the street at Bar Tonique which attracted an really interesting mix of folks. Again, all shared the same interest of connecting via Social Media to share the enjoyment of cocktails and spirits. Lindsey’s doing some real groundbreaking SMM marketing stuff especially with video and Twitter, and we’re looking forward to working together with her.

On the way back to the hotel I was pelted by beads from a balcony tossed by(no I didn’t take my shirt off) Mike Ginley and the folks from Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt. And so to bed.