In a city where beer and wine fests rule, one event championing the classic cocktail has been growing rapidly over the past seven years.
At the inaugural San Diego Spirits Festival back in the summer of 2009, 19 liquor brands assembled. By year three, the fest found its home at the newly revealed Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, bringing 53 spirit companies to the coast.
This year, the two-day event will have more than 70 brands represented while heightening all of the senses with chef demonstrations, bartender competitions, dance performances and live music.
“We’re putting more focus on the restaurants involved this year,” said Liz Edwards, founder and director of the San Diego Spirits Festival. “There’s also more bourbons, rums and vodkas than ever before. Every year, there’s a shift in the popular liquor of choice.”
Beyond the spirits, Drop Dead Dames burlesque dancers will entertain and local bands will get the liquor-fueled dance moves going.
“People who come will be entertained. We’ve got three bands playing, samba dancers, belly dancers and a bartender battle on Sunday,” Edwards said.
There are also currently 108 entries from all over the world in a blind tasting bottle competition in which distinguished judges will award top scores with gold medals to be used on labeling.
“We have brands exhibiting from all corners of the world,” Edwards said. “I just got a late registration to be in the festival from Australia. Even with a week to go, I’m still getting brands wanting to be at this event.”
Edwards credits the success of the festival to just how generous a ticket in really is.
“When we say your ticket is unlimited, we mean it. We don’t give out punch cards. Everything here is included - as much food and drink as you can handle,” she said.
The San Diego Spirits Festival attracts industry professionals, cocktail enthusiasts, food-fanatics and those who love a good San Diego outdoor event. Tickets can be purchased for single day or two-day prices, as well as designated driver prices.
San Diego Spirits Festival
When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive
Tickets: $90 Saturday or Sunday; $150 both days