This Spring marked the 9th anniversary of The Liquid Muse, and I found the most insanely awesome way to celebrate: New Mexico Cocktails & Culture. Having been involved with many cocktail weeks and festivals around the country, I wanted to create the first one for my home state. It was the most challenging project of my career, to date, but it was also the most rewarding.
I reached out to some of my early mixology mentors and industry friends, and – holy smokes! – they came to support. I can’t express enough gratitude to each sponsor, speaker, volunteer and attendee for being part of the inaugural 3-day event, which took place May 30 – June 1.
Charlotte Voisey, of William Grant & Sons, brought 4th Row Film’s award-winning documentary Hey Bartender to the historic theater inside the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe, where the audience learned about the mixology world, and its major players. Afterwards, guests mingled over cocktails and nibbles in the grassy courtyard filled with live music and merriment.
The next two days happened at Skylight. Tony Abou-Ganim led a
full house through his Vodka Distilled seminar, sponsored by Tito’s vodka.
Bobby “G” Gleason shared his Great Whiskey Cocktails seminar and slung specialty Beam Suntory drinks for the Sean Healen concert on Sunday evening.
Kim Haasarud educated the crowd on bringing a culinary adventure to drinks using local ingredients.
And, Dale DeGroff’s ‘I’ll Take Manhattan’ presentation focused on how bitters change even the most standard classic cocktail.
Arizona Cocktail Week Co-Founder, Layla Linn, a NM-native, came from her current town of Phoenix to help run operations. Truly, the event was an all-star affair with friends from near and far.
The local tasting room showcased New Mexican spirits and hard ciders. And, NMCC’s charitable silent auction table burst with beautiful art, dinners, golfing and rafting gift certificates donated by local businesses and individuals. We raised over $1300 for the Helen David Relief Fund, benefitting bartenders battling breast cancer, thanks to Andrea Murphy who found time in her busy job managing Jinja Bar & Bistro to volunteer as auction coordinator, and Dana Lutrell who was volunteer coordinator.
We also had an all-star USBG New Mexico meeting featuring our special guests. And, the bartender balance series – Mind Body Spirit(s) – which Dushan Zaric, Patricia Richards and I have now shared at Tales of the Cocktail and Arizona Cocktail Week, made its Santa Fe debut, thanks to Belvedere vodka and Perfect Puree.
The Agave Social closing party featured Brand Ambassadors from Milagro, Azunia, Excellia and Del Maguey mezcal
sharing the spirits of Mexico to a backdrop of one of the finest Mariachi groups in the Southwest.
NMCC attendees ranged from industry professionals to everyday people who love to eat and drink. The events were full and the feedback is positive. So, plan on New Mexico Cocktails & Culture in June 2016!
*Photos courtesy of NMCC’s Official Photographer Gabriella Marks.