The ninth annual Arizona Cocktail Weekend is starting to look like a circus already — and that’s a good thing. Though not every single event has yet to be announced, the next week (no, it’s not just the weekend) is filling up nicely. In case you have a few free nights coming up, or have Presidents’ Day off, or just enjoy well-made craft cocktails by some of the Valley’s top bartenders, here’s a breakdown of the many events happening during the 2020 Arizona Cocktail Weekend.
Thursday, February 13
Graduates of the online BarSmarts program (sorry, everyone else) may attend the full-day Bar Smarts Advanced mixology testing and certification event at The Croft Downtown starting at 9 a.m. Hosted by Pernod Ricard USA and BAR, LLC., the bartending class will select a top student, who will then be awarded a Bar 5-Day scholarship. And if you haven't taken the online course, you may do so at the Bar Smarts Advanced website for $75.
Friday, February 14
You better bring your going-out clothes to the office, because Friday’s activities start at 5 p.m. and don’t let up much after that. From 5 to 7 p.m., join the American Single Malt Whiskey Evolution talk and tasting with Dave Smith of St. George Spirits at Century Grand. From 8:30 to 11 p.m., head to Lustre Rooftop Bar for Agave and Art on the rooftop with El Tesoro Tequila.
Or: from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Melinda's Alley is hosting A Night in Havana. Or, fom midnight to 2 a.m., check out the Tartlet Takeover with the people from Grey Goose Vodka, Teeling Whiskey Company, and Banks Rum at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
Saturday, February 15
Hope you slept well, because Saturday’s drinking starts at 10:30 a.m. (till 2 p.m.) with Earn Your Milagro Tequila!, a free, 21-plus group workout held at Chico Malo. Or head to Little Rituals for The Highball Hideout with rotating guest bartenders from 11 to 3 p.m. From noon to 2 p.m., Jaymee Mandeville, Bacardi North America’s Trade Education Director, will be hosting Vermouth 101 at Bitter & Twisted. And if you’d like to learn more, the class A History of Gin According to Cocktails will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. back upstairs at Little Rituals.
If shoeshines and craft cocktails sound your speed, check out Emporium by I.W. Harper from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hotel Palomar. By this time, you’ll need some food, so head for the Diageo Dinner 2.0 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Nook Kitchen Downtown. After from 8 to 11 p.m., check out the cocktail menu during Single Malt at Sazerac hosted by, yes, Sazerac PHX.
One of the bigger events is the Cocktail Carnival, which goes from 8 p.m. to midnight at The Walter Where?House, which will also be the temporary home of the MarchFourth marching band. And from midnight to 2 a.m., check out the St. George Carnival Afterparty at Pigtails Downtown, or head back to Bitter & Twisted for another Tartlet Takeover, again from midnight to 2 a.m.
Sunday, February 16
Take a deep breath, because Sunday is going to be wild. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can hang at the Garrison brothers' house (like, an actual house) for Sunday Funday. Or check out UnderTow for Sail Along With the East India Co. from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., or head back to Little Rituals for another Highball Hangout from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
From 12:30 to 2 p.m., Bitter & Twisted is hosting the tequila-heavy Aged to Perfection event with Patrón's director of production, Antonio Rodriguez. During that, you can sneak off to the preview screening of the new web series Happy Hour History from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott Phoenix Downtown next door.
Found:RE Phoenix Hotel is hosting back-to-back seminars this afternoon. Head over for Bulleit Frontier Lab Seminars: The Future of Bartender Mentorship, from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by Bulleit Frontier Lab Seminars: Create an Award-Winning Drink Menu from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Lastly, from 4 to 5 p.m., check out Bulleit Frontier Lab Seminars: The Bartender Paradox.
From 3 to 6 p.m., Little Rituals is hosting the Martin Hudak Masterclass & Guest Shift with Mr. Black's Global Coffee Ambassador, Martin Hudak. This is a good opportunity to get some caffeine in you. Another tasting, St. George Spirits Portfolio: Tasting and History, will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at From the Rooftop at Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix.
Now for the big event. The Croft is hosting Top Bars — pop-up versions of Phoenix’s most beloved bars — and it goes down from 8 p.m. to midnight. After all that, if you need to wind down, move over to Cornish Pasty Downtown for A Night to Fernet About with jazz and nightcaps from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Monday, February 17
It’s not over yet. Presidents’ Day proper kicks off with Bartenders Brunch 2.0 — offering ceviche and morning cocktails — happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Larder + the Delta. Follow that with another class, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal: Mezcal 101, at Little Rituals from 2 to 4 p.m. Or begin your drinking in the early evening, starting with the Banks Rums Punch Social from 4 to 6 p.m. over at Century Grand. Either that or stay downtown and join Discovery Hour: Craft @ Home inside Dust Cutter.
Now, for the fun one. Check out Last Slinger Standing from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Young’s Market Company to see which bartender from the Southwest will take home the gold. That’s always a wild one.
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Tuesday, February 18
Join the full-day Consejo Regulador del Tequila starting at 9 a.m. at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel for a chance to earn a certificate in tequila education. The CRT seminar and exam will be followed by a flight tasting with Gran Patrón and Roca Patrón.
For more information (as if you could cram any more), see the Arizona Cocktail Weekend website. See you in the emergency room.