SideDish attends the kickoff to Texas Craft Cocktails Week.
Dozens of guests sipped specialty cocktails from mainstream and artisan spirit sponsors last night at the Kick Off Party for the inaugural Craft Cocktails Texas festival on the penthouse floor of The Stoneleigh Hotel. While listening to melodies sung by crooner Ricki Derek, guests sipped on 18-year-old single malt from Balvenie & Glenfiddich, tiki punch from Sailor Jerry Rum, jam-infused drinks mixed with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, and a new product from Maison Lillet (Lillet Rose) served over ice with a refreshing slice of grapefruit.
Craft Cocktails, the brainchild of Mixologist Brian McCullough and Nico Ponce, is a four day festival developed to highlight the art of creating fresh, innovative and delicious cocktails using artisan spirits – often with a nod to the classics -taking place throughout Texas. If you have any love of artisan cocktails, this was the place to be last night, and will be the place to be through Sunday.
The Root Spirit
Nam Lee, Brand Ambassador for Art In the Age Spirits, discussed how joining the festival (with their incredible Root, Snap, and soon to-be-introduced Ruhby) was an easy decision, as Texas is a huge market for the company with a loyal following throughout the state for their spirits. William Grant, Hendrick’s Gin, Balvenie, Hudson Whisky and Sailor Jerry Rum also made a mainstream debut at the festival. The Root spirit may be the new favorite of the summer – an 80 proof liqueur made from sugar cane and infused with an array of spices including star anise, cloves, orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, birch bark and so much more. Add in a little ginger ale or club soda and you would think you were drinking an A&W with a kick.
Upcoming events the rest of the weekend include seminars, tastings and celebrations for this part conference/part cocktail party event. Some must dos include:
A session on the history of absinthe, the spirit that 1850’s bohemians claimed had a medicinal and inspirational effect as they embrace the Green Fairy (Taste for yourself and see.)
A session titled “100 Miles of Texas Cocktails,” where Josh Hendrix and Chef Patrick Stark from Sundown at the Granada mix cocktails from ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Dallas.
A seminar hosted by Mixologist Jason Kosmas on abandoning traditional thoughts about mixing cocktails and simply creating the best flavors for your taste. I have been to a class Jason taught in the past and can truly say he is a master, understanding the true art of flavor pairing with creativity and restraint. This is a session to attend. Additionally throughout the weekend, The Stoneleigh will host a tasting room of cocktails including the festival spirit sponsors.
On Saturday from noon to 8pm, the Main Street Garden Festival will feature live music from local musicians, food trucks, local craft and art vendors, all culminating in a cocktail competition where 30 barmen and women will accept the challenge to make the best drink from spirits like Milagro Tequila, Cinco Vodka, Maker’s Mark, Raxor Artisan Gin and Pink Pigeon Rum. The Main Street Festival will also serve as the Texas launch party for the premium rum made in Mauritius, the tropical paradise of the Indian Ocean from high quality sugar cane with Bourbon vanilla. Guests will have a chance to try the concoctions created by the competing bartenders to see whose they like best.