In January, Los Angeles is getting its very own cocktail convention. The Golden State of Cocktails has the potential to become an important annual event in the global cocktail community.
"I don't like to say it's like the West Coast Tales of the Cocktail," says Skyler Reeves, one of the founders of the event and director of operations at 213 Nightlife, "but I do find myself saying that a lot." Tales of the Cocktail is the New Orleans cocktail convention, which has been running for more than a decade and has become the world's most important event for the cocktail community, with bartenders flying in from all over the globe for five days of seminars, parties, awards and liquor brand showcases.
The Golden State of Cocktails will have some of these components but not all. And the reason the festival came into being was not simply to have another convention.
"When we've been going around the country with 213 to things like Tales and seeing other people from California, the same thing kept coming up," Reeves says. "And that is that there is no large-scale event that represents L.A. and California's cocktail scene. And in our humble opinion, we feel like we can hold our own against anywhere else in the world. California dining and cocktails are second to none, and we want a way to showcase that. That was the big vision for it."
The festival, which will take place downtown mainly at the Los Angeles Times building (it is a sponsor) will have two components: a couple days of seminars for those in the bar industry on topics such as how to incorporate cognac into cocktails and how to open a bar; and a session led by a physical therapist on ways to "bartend forever," offering preventative steps and stretches to keep the practitioners of the notoriously rough physical profession in better shape. Then there are events geared to the industry but also to the public, specifically nightly bar crawls and a big party at the end of the festival.
Unlike Tales of the Cocktail and many other bartending events, there will be no awards and no heavy emphasis on competition. While they won't rule that out in future years, Reeves says, it was a conscious decision to try something different. "We love awards and competitions, but we decided against those components for now," he says. "There's a winner but there's also a loser, or someone who worked their butt off and didn't get nominated. We'd like to make this as inclusive as possible."
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Reeves says his hope for the festival is that it will become huge, a marquee annual event for Los Angeles.
The Golden State of Cocktails will take place Jan. 27-30. For information or to buy tickets, visit goldenstateofcocktails.com.