Arizona Cocktail Week 2015: Here's The Schedule of Speakers, Events, and Seminars So Far

Micah Olson competes at the Last Slinger Standing competition last year.
Micah Olson competes at the Last Slinger Standing competition last year.
Courtesy of Arizona Cocktail Week

Arizona Cocktail Week is just around the corner, which means it time to start planning out your schedule of dining, drinking, and, of course, education for the eight day-long celebration of all things booze. From Saturday, February 14 to Saturday, February 21, cocktail lovers and booze hounds will have no shortage of things to do.

This year's schedule includes some return events such as the Cocktail Carnival, an outdoor party that will showcase dozens of vendors, carnival games, aerial pool performers, and cocktail tastings, as well as the Top Bars of America event, where some of the country's top mixologists will set up pop-up bars at the Hotel Valley Ho. There's also a lineup of educational seminars, many of which will focus of the spirit of the moment, whiskey.

See also: 23 Food and Drink Festivals in Metro Phoenix: Winter/Spring 2015

The first two days of Cocktail Week are the most jammed-packed with events, but in addition to the events below there will be programming spread throughout the week. In particular, on Monday you can look forward to the Artisanal Spirit and Cocktail Market and the Last Slinger Standing bartending competition.

Saturday, February 14

Tasting Panel Speakeasy 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Free with AZCW Wristband ($10)

Stop by and sample premiere brand spirits and cocktails ranging from bourbon to rum to tequila at the along with some easy culinary techniques like flaming herbs and foams. You'll get to sample some of these exclusive Tasting Panel Bar hosted by some of the worlds greatest bartending!

Bourbon & Bluegrass 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25

Close your eyes and picture a Ken Burns documentary on Bourbon brought to life through live bluegrass music. All throughout the performance, experience the evolution of Bourbon by tasting whiskey (and what became Bourbon) that folks drank back in the 1700's, moving to what they drank throughout the 1800's and finally what they're drinking in present day.

This tasting of whiskies from Heaven Hill stimulates all the senses. See, hear, smell, feel and taste the history of the native spirit of the United States and drink in the history of Kentucky's fine spirit through its music. Enjoy music performed by the Whiskey Professor and International Whiskey Ambassador of Heaven Hill, Bernie Lubbers.

Defining Craft presented by Steve Olson of aka Wine Geek 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25

Join Steve Olson in a debate on what defines a craft spirit. Is it Tradition? Is it Terroir? Is it small production? How is "hand-crafted" defined? In light of recent events and lawsuits over what that terminology means, join this lively discussion and tasting including some of the top "craft" spirits in the US and beyond and judge for yourself.

At-Home Mixology presented by Kathy Casey of The Liquid Kitchen 3 p.m to 4:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25

From seasonal cocktails to tailgating to parties to the holidays, learn how to turn your kitchen into a home bar. Kathy Casey, touted as the Original Bar Chef and host of Liquid Kitchen Cocktail show on the Small Screen Network will share with you how to make delicious cocktails from things in your pantry and fridge, along with some easy techniques like flaming herbs and foams. You'll get to sample some of these cocktails, as well as how to make a great Valentines Day cocktail.

Riedel presents The Right Glassware for the Right Spirit sponsored by Patron Tequila 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $60

Did you know glassware can greatly impact the flavor and taste of a spirit? It does...and in a big way. Join Chris Dillon, RTM of Riedel Crystal of North America. At this event, Wine and Spirits guru Chris Dillon will take you on a sensory exploration of fine spirits, as he pairs the spirits with glassware designed to complement the individual spirit.  This is a truly mind blowing experience. At the end of this event, you will leave with a set of glassware from Riedel Crystal. If you consider yourself a spirits aficionado, or if you just like them a lot, you can't miss this event.

Cocktail Carnival 7 to 10 p.m. Location: OH Pool, Hotel Valley Ho General Admission: $25

The Dark Ages of the Cocktail Carnival, a whimsical event filled with cirque du soleil pool acts, a photo booth and cocktails galore. Featuring the classics that you love to hate such as the Appletini, Mind Eraser, Surfer on Acid, White Russian, Sex on the Beach and even the Harvey Wallbanger re-invigorated and re-imagined by some of the top mixologists in the country. It is Valentines Day, so bring a date or not!

 

Sunday, February 15

Mind, Body, and Spirit 10 to 11:30 a.m. Location: Hotel Valley Ho Lawn Free with AZCW Wristband

Come get your yoga on and refresh with smoothies and cold-pressed juices.

Tasting Panel Speakeasy 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Bar, Hotel Valley Ho Free with AZCW Wristband ($10)

Stop by and sample premiere brand spirits and cocktails ranging from bourbon to rum to tequila at the along with some easy culinary techniques like flaming herbs and foams. You'll get to sample some of these exclusive Tasting Panel Bar hosted by some of the worlds greatest bartending!

Women, the Old Masters of Whiskey sponsored by Beam Suntory 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building Entry: $25 (or $50 with signed book)

What do beer, distillation, and aqua vitae have in common? They were all invented and created by women! While women may be enjoying whiskey at an all-time high, none of us would be enjoying the "water of life" as we know it today had it not been for the vigilance and steward(ess)ship of women during the early days of spirit production, Prohibition and even today. It's true! Sumerian women invented beer and Mesopotamian women invented distillation. Many Medieval European women were executed for witchcraft just for making aqua vitae, while women in American Prohibition-era brothels were incredible bootleggers, supplying Al Capone and Bill McCoy with whiskey and other spirits. On the legal side, women owned Bushmills, Cardhu, Dalmore, George Dickel, Laphroaig, Tullamore Dew and were the cornerstone to Jim Beam and Maker's Mark.

Join Fred Minnick, acclaimed author of Whiskey Women as he describes the history of women in whiskey, followed by a Q&A with modern whiskey women from every corner of the whiskey world in an open and honest discussion of such historically relevant women as Bessie Smith and Margie Samuels to the modern day perceptions and of what it means to be a Whiskey Woman. The seminar will include a tasting of whiskies that have been influenced or produced by women.

How to Build a Successful Bar...the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Professional Senimar Presented by Dushan Zaric of 86 & Co and Employees Only and Cherry Heering 1 to 2:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Hotel Valley Ho Entry: $25

Every bartender or server has at least once dreamed of being the boss and having a bar of their own. If you are one of those dreamers and would like to find out really how to open a successful bar then we are delighted to invite you to join Dushan Zaric of The 86 Co. and Employees Only for a fun & educational seminar on how to really do it right. There are many reasons why you should be your own boss but there are even more reasons why the endeavor might be the hardest thing you have ever undertaken. In this interactive workshop we will share with you all the information you need to have before you embark on your own adventure including what it takes to achieve enduring success.

The seminar would require the attendees to take active part by answering questions and sharing their views as we explore different stages of preopening, opening and post opening.

The Dead Rabbit (NYC) presents "An Ode to Irish Whiskey" 3 to 4:40 p.m. Location: Sands Building Entry: $25

The Dead Rabbit was named after the infamous Irish American street gang of the Five Points, NY in the mid 1800's. Their bar is like walking back through time in that point of history. Jillian Vose will talk about the history of Irish Whiskey with emphasis on the various styles.  The seminar will also include a comparative tasting of Irish whiskies, from grain to 100% pot stilled.  

AZ Storytellers Project presents Stories from the Kitchen, the Bar and the Heart 7- 9:30 p.m. Location: Sands Building, Hotel Valley Ho General Admission: $75, $65 for Arizona Republic Subscribers

Join three notable bartenders and three renowned chefs, including Beau McMillan of elements at the Sanctuary, as they partner to present a three-course cocktail-paired dinner defined by the stories of the men and women telling them. Each course is accompanied by two stories about what makes that drink and dish one from the heart. The Arizona Republic's Megan Finnerty will host the night full of dishes and drinks. Proceeds benefit C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Proram).

Top Bars of America 12 to 2 a.m. (Monday) Location: Hotel Valley Ho Ballroom Entry: $25

This event features some of the top mixology bars in America from the West Coast to the East Coast and everything in-between right here in Phoenix, Arizona.  Come and "Bar-Hop" through a maze of these pop-up bars including The Dead Rabbit (NYC), Rose.Rabbit.Lie (Las Vegas), Hakkasan (Las Vegas), Death & Co (NYC), Acorn (Denver) to name just a few and meet some of these celebrity mixologists without ever leaving the Hotel Valley Ho.  It's a chance to meet and see some of the top bartenders and mixologists in the country "in-action".

For more events or to purchase tickets visit the Arizona Cocktail Week website.

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