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Get spirited at cocktail, culinary festival

Time to shake things up when this spirited cocktail and culinary festivals is returning to San Diego for the ninth year at the end of August. The San Diego Spirits Festival brings samples of top-shelf cocktails from small-batch and big-name distillers along with tastes from local restaurants and top chefs from Aug. 26-27 at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.

The San Diego Spirits Festival has been bringing the best of the craft cocktail scene to the city since 2009, and this year will be no different. The two-day festival promises to be a feast for all senses with creative cocktails, delicious food, live music and entertainment (including burlesque, samba and aerial performances), bartender competitions, grand tastings, seminars and even possible celebrity sightings. From the cocktail novice to the spirits and mixology enthusiast, the San Diego Spirits Festival has something for every palate.

Here's a small sample of offerings to whet your whistle: Lillet VIP bar; Rums of Puerto Rico fine brands including Bacardi, Don Q, Ron del Barrilito, Trigo Reserva Añeja and Pitorro; Lagunitas Beer Lounge; William Hutton Rums; Gin 13; Tattoo Tequila; Smooch Brands launch; Adictivo Tequila; Forty Creek Whiskey Tour; Tanduay Rums; Gorgeous Vodka; Glass Vodka; Verras Mezcal; El Rey Tequila; Gem & Bolt; Suave Tequila; Wild Roots Vodka; Wild Tonic Kombucha; Koval Distillery; Imperial Beers; Porchetta Liqueurs; Buzz Box Beverages; RumTini; Pussers Rum; Hiro Sake; Diabolo Beverages; Forex Vodka; Flamingo Vodka and more.

Another festival highlight will be the spirits competition, where craft distillers, American merchant bottlers and large distillers will submit their top spirits for a blind tasting and analysis by a panel of expert judges. The tasting competition takes place on Aug. 26, with results and winners being announced on the final day of the festival.

On Aug. 26, festival-goers will also get to see demonstrations from celebrity chefs from MasterChef Season 7, including second runner up Brandi Mudd, Dan Paustian and the father/daughter team of Bill and Ashley Travers.

The festival will run from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 with an after party and runway fashion show on from 6-9 p.m., and from 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Daily tickets are $65 for Saturday, $55 for Sunday. For a more luxurious experience on Saturday, a $95 VIP ticket includes access to an exclusive VIP area. All tickets include unlimited cocktails and samples from restaurants. Food may also be purchased from food trucks.

All general admission and VIP tickets (for Saturday or Sunday) are also good for the after party and fashion show on Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased for the after party only - a $15 general admission ticket includes two drinks, and a $35 VIP ticket includes access to the Lillet VIP bar and seating at the fashion show.

To purchase tickets, visit sandiegospiritsfestival.com.

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