Mixed drinks have been around for at least a century, depending upon which history books you point your swizzle stick at, but the last decade or two has seen a veritable new dawning in the spirited beverage industry.
This fresh take on old tastes hasn't simply been about stylish new taverns and clubs; the drinks themselves have grown in sophistication and creativity, and lauded libation-makers now regularly pen books and open their own joints.
Enter the Golden State of Cocktails, "The Premier Celebration of California's Cocktail Culture." The three-day confab, which will include as many info-packed seminars as a bucket has ice cubes (or just about), is open to professionals and the public. There is an asterisk next to non-pros attending, in that "most programming" is open to anyone over 21 who puts forty bucks down to slip into a seminar.
That programming is on from Sunday, Jan. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 26, dates that rather reveal that this is an industry-facing event in many ways. The hub? The Majestic Downtown.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The topics? They're as plentiful as the pretty bottles lining a bar's lit-up top shelf. A seminar on daiquiri-making will fill up with daiquiri devotees, and The Bartender's Journey Through Cognac is also making a showing. Cocktails on Tap is another intriguing slice of the schedule.
Several spirits houses, from Angel's Envy to Bacardi, are part of the celebration, one that definitely is about furthering the tech and art of what's happening behind the bar, and giving those home mixologists new pointers and a wider sense of what's happening around California's innovative drink destinations.
Do you need your own muddler, and strainer, and infuser to be a part of the beverage-forward set that makes up the California cocktail universe nowadays? Nah; just because balsamic vinegar and and maple syrup and Sriracha are all showing up in fancy beverages doesn't mean it is all snootily high hat.
Quality creations are the key, whatever goes into the glass. This, and building tight cocktailing community, is very much at the heart of the Golden State of Cocktails. By the by, if you're pondering how big the "state" part of the name is, check it out: San Diego and San Francisco are the other yearly stops on this celebration's dance card.