The second Golden State of Cocktails kicks off this week at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in Downtown, and the booze-centric festival includes three days of seminars, tastings and pairings, offering equal parts education and entertainment for both industry and public.
Billed as a celebration of California's diverse cocktail culture, attendees can expect a varied landscape ranging from an afternoon of barbecue—inspired drinks paired with fried chicken, to an evening of sipping your way through the history of absinthe. Many of the workshops are geared towards the hardworking women and men behind the bar, but don't quit your day job, just yet; here's a preview of events perfectly-suited to even the most casual imbibers.
Good Times at Davey Wayne's gets the ball rolling on Monday with "Finger Lickin'!" — a fundraising mixer, built around quality drinks and succulent fried chicken. Starting at 1 p.m., the three-hour soirée is hosted by the Bon Vivants, a consortium of talented mixologists from across the country committed to raising money for underfunded public schools. A $20 entry ticket supports their cause, and entitles you to limitless cocktails and southern-fried grub. Try finding a bargain that comes even close anywhere else in the city.
The seminars and workshops of Golden State of Cocktails officially begin on Tuesday morning at the Athletic Club, and $25 tickets are available for an hour-long presentation on the history of women in whiskey. Hosted by Suzanne Brown, whose family brought the world Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester (among many others), her speech is sure to make you thirsty. Thankfully, several tastings are included.
Later in the afternoon, Brown will host a separate lecture focusing on the art of barrel production. The oak vessels used to store whiskey are as responsible for the end flavor as the grain used to make the liquor. Still made mostly by hand, the significance of the barrel is often diminished when it comes to understanding the craftsmanship of fine whiskey. But if you fancy the brown stuff, this is a fantastic opportunity to examine this under-explored process.
If all this talk about spirits seems far too academic, Golden State of Cocktails offers plenty in the way of extra-curricular activities. Tuesday night on the Westside, Anchor Distilling hosts an evening-long bar crawl royale, featuring four of Santa Monica's preeminent cocktail destinations. $50 tickets include a speciality drink each at the Chestnut Club, Brilliantshine, Copa D'Oro, and the Back Room. Transportation and food is also provided.
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For the gourmands, Beam Suntory is sponsoring a nightly dinner series from 7-9 p.m. at three prominent L.A. eateries. Tuesday night's affair brings Courvoisier's award-winning line of cognacs to Scopa Italian Roots in Venice. Wednesday is for tequila as El Tesoro comes to Roy Choi's Commissary, melding Mexican spirits with Asian-fusion cuisine. The series concludes with an evening of small batch bourbons paired along soul food classics at Apartment A in the Arts District. The all-inclusive dinners are priced at $100 a head.
A complete listing of all the tastings and workshops (plus ticket purchasing!) is available at the Golden State of Cocktails website. There's a lot to drink and only so much time in a day, so choose wisely.