We Have Spirits, Yes We Do


By Brandon Hernandez

(Published in the June 2010 issue)

Seminars, trade events and mixers-at first blush, the San Diego Spirits Festival sounds like some sort of convention. Indeed, for pros in the adult beverage industry, it’s a chance to talk shop, show off their wares and get down to business. But for fans of a good stiff drink, it’s a four-day free-for-all stocked with top-shelf cocktail parties, mixology competitions and tasting events throughout downtown.

Local libation enthusiasts are already lining up to get in on the action, which kicks off June 2 and trickles down to the Grand Tasting Event on June 5. Even the City’s top dog, Mayor Jerry Sanders, is on-board.

“The San Diego Spirits Festival will bring beverage and trade professionals, celebrity judges and consumers together,” Sanders writes in a welcome letter to the festival’s participants and guests. “I am certain your experience in ‘America’s Finest City’ will be truly memorable.”

The June 5 Grand Tasting will host 2,000 attendees at the Hilton Bayfront’s Waterfront Park and will feature more fine liquors than you can shake a swizzle stick at. Prefer your drinks paired with cutting-edge cuisine? Feast your eyes and taste buds on the June 3 mixology food-pairing challenge at Grant Grill, where chef-mixologist duos from local restaurants will vie for supremacy with their harmonic drink-dish tandems. And for the purists, a mixology competition will take place June 4 on the rooftop of the Andaz Hotel, featuring a group of stout competitors from the San Diego Bartenders Guild.

On June 3 and 4, industry experts will conduct seminars, redefining “higher education” by covering topics such as the history of gin and tequila, women and whiskey (we’re listening) and lessons in molecular mixology. If that weren’t enough, each night of the festival will feature parties with themed fashion shows and event-specific cocktails where 100 percent of proceeds benefit local charities.

With so many bad reasons in life to reach for a drink, it’s cool that San Diegans now have so many good reasons. For tickets or more info, visit

Where to soak in the San Diego Spirits Festival

June 2: Welcome Pink Charity Party
The MerK at The Keating Hotel, 820 5th Ave., , downtown,

June 3: Bartender/Chef Mixology Food Pairing Challenge,
5 - 7:30 p.m. Grant Grill at US Grant Hotel,
326 Broadway, downtown,

June 3: San Diego Junior League Charity Party
Siren Pool & Uber Lounge at Sè San Diego Hotel,
1047 5th Ave., downtown

June 4: Partying for a Purpose Charity Party
and Blind Tiger Mixology Competition,
7 - 9:30 p.m. Ivy Rooftop at Andaz Hotel,
600 F St., downtown

June 5: The Grand Tasting, 1 - 5:30 p.m.
Hilton Bayfront, 1 Park Blvd., downtown

June 5: Grand Tasting After Party
Sway Lounge at The Keating Hotel, 432 F St.,
downtown, 619.814.5700,