As many of you might know, this week is the annual cocktail geek gathering in New Orleans known as Tales of the Cocktail. Every year, bartenders, brand ambassadors, and cocktail enthusiasts from all over the world come together to celebrate, learn about, and embrace the cocktail renaissance.
Coincidentally, Tales falls almost five months to the day after International Bear Rendezvous in San Francisco. Every year bears, cubs, and daddies from all over the world come together to celebrate, learn about, and embrace the bear culture.
And while the two festivals may have different purposes, they do share a common theme: liberal cities full of large, bearded men getting together and sweating profusely while consuming lots of alcohol. So in the the spirit of celebrating our collective alternative lifestyles, I present to you this photo quiz: let’s see if you can tell the two events apart.
1. Start with an easy one. Cocktail geek, or “bear”?
Big guy, full beard, collared shirt, lanyard. That’s classic cocktail geek getup right there, folks, in the form of top cocktail geek Rick Stutz, AKA Kaiser Penguin.
2. Okay, this one’s a little tougher. Cocktail geek, or “bear”?
Big guy, full beard, no shirt, no lanyard. You’ve got yourself a bear in the wild right here.
3. Answer this one quickly: cocktail geek, or “bear”?
Smaller guy, full beard, no shirt, but standing in front of the Hotel Monteleone at four in the morning? Unfortunately for some, public nudity is a very real part of both events. And while your initial response might have been “bear”, this is actually cocktail geek and Chicago bartender Brad Bolt.
We would have also accepted “cub”.
4. Okay, let’s go. Cocktail geeks, or “bears”?
Two men: one bearded, one goateed. Both are wearing polo shirts, and both are understandably drinking beer from plastic cups. Ready? Bears.
I warned you, this isn’t always easy.
5. Now try this. Cocktail geeks, or “bears”?
Again, two men, one bearded, one goateed. Both are wearing Hawaiian shirts and inexplicably drinking Velvet Falernum from the bottle.
Cocktail geeks. Always. These bears are actually a special subset of cocktail geeks known as tiki nerds. The nerds in this instance are Matt “RumDood” Robold and Craig “Dr. Bamboo” Mrusek. Only a tiki nerd would drink Velvet Falernum straight from the bottle.
6. An important part of bear culture is the notion of “cubs”; younger men who identify with the culture and often accompany older men. Here are four pictures of younger men accompanying older men. See if you can pick out the one couple of cocktail geeks from the group.
Photos C and D are of bears and cubs.
Photo A is Seattle cocktail and spirits writer Paul Clarke, and San Francisco bartender/brand ambassador Neyah White.
Photo B is an intentional trick: Star Trek: The Next Generation actors Jonathan Frakes (as Commander WIlliam Riker) and Wil Wheaton as (Lieutenant Wesley Crusher) are huge icons in the bear/cub community.
Sadly I can’t be there in New Orleans this year with all of my cocktail nerd brothers and sisters, as I came down with a wicked case of pneumonia earlier in the week. But if you’d like to follow along with all of their exploits, be sure to check out the Tales Blog for all of the juicy bits.