The Rise and Rise of the Cocktail Fest

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And when we’ve all tasted the small–batch Pisco Sours and artisan Gin Flips at the festival, how are we going to maintain our beverage standards back home? Don’t worry: It’s going mainstream. “The TGIFs of this world have been sniffing around a long time on this,” says Wondrich. “They see the popularity. They’ll do a separate list of old–style cocktails or something.” He adds that Dale DeGroff — aka King Cocktail, one of the major figures of the renaissance—costed out what it would take to make proper cocktails on a very large scale for Marriott. He found it’s cheaper to make drinks with fresh juices than with sour mix.” Townsend agrees: “I think it’s just the next obvious step in the evolution of a more discerning American palate. In the same way that restaurants (and food culture at large) underwent a massive renaissance over the past two decades, we’re seeing the same thing now with bars and cocktail culture.”

Next… the world. Expect specialist, niche festivals—tiki events, rum gatherings, single–malt shows, to name a few that already exist. And cocktail tourism, such as drink–centric bars in swanky hotels (there are loads in London), Orient–Expressish trains with celebrity mixologists, cocktail cruises (though if you Google that, you get a lot of stills of Tom with his neon shaker). Really, this whole thing is just a new dawn of the old nightlife. From the invention of the cocktail (Jerry Thomas circa 1860) till the 1980s you could get a great drink in any old saloon. Then the piña colada happened. And now—though you may have to go to the library for it—those days are back.

Kate Sekules, a recovering print journalist (editor–in–chief of Culture+Travel, travel editor of Food & Wine…), is the founder of the couture swapping site

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