1. From Tales to Towns
Across the country, bartenders and mixologists alike (this year, we’re encountering both) know the professional glory and mayhem that is Tales of the Cocktail. But even if the New Orleans craft cocktail event is a yearly draw for nationwide talent, we’ve begun to see evidence of healthy home-grown gatherings. Last January, we toured the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail conference with classes on topics from ice and bitters to gin and Texas regionalism (the next is slated for January 17). We interviewed mixologists somehow on their feet in the midst of Portland’s first-ever Portland Cocktail Week. And we returned to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which is really beginning to earn its name with annual programming dedicated to the progress of modern mixology (with industry experts and, of course, top-shelf product to back it up). A New York-centric cocktail conference might not seem like evidence of “smaller markets” taking on cocktail events, but the fact that MCC has evolved into a cocktail magnet of its own will likely inspire other markets to do the same. We’re not sure how far it’ll go, if you’ll find a cocktail conference popping up on Main Street USA, but it looks like strong community-oriented bartenders are more eager to make their mark on their own home turf.