I had noticed that other cities were doing cocktail events: our very own Santa Clarita Valley restaurants had bar programs that were vamping up with seasonal craft cocktails along with favorites our parents enjoyed like the rye-based Manhattan, blended whiskey-based Rob Roy, the Luxardo cherry and orange wheel in a whiskey-based Old Fashioned and the bright red Negroni that utilizes Compari and sweet vermouth and the vodka-based Moscow Mule with its bite of ginger beer.
Even the winners of our bartender contest at Cocktails on the Roof all had made at least one with brown spirits. And I’m betting that though they offered more than one cocktail at their tables, these were the winners. Look for their trophies next time you visit:
First Place, Newhall Refinery; Bourbon Bramble by Peter Nguyen: Evan Williams whiskey, St Germain liqueur, Cassis Noir De Bourgogne and lemon wedge.
Second Place, Olive Terrace Bar and Grill; Manhattan by Jonathan Cross: Bulleit rye, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and Luxardo cherry.
Third Place, Salt Creek Grille Valencia; Trader Vic’s Inspired Mai Tai by Diego Lara: Premium rum, Cointreau, lime juice, orgeat syrup, pineapple juice.
People have asked me how I came up with the idea for Cocktails on the Roof, now having completed its second successful year as Santa Clarita Valley’s only cocktail event. First came pal Marlee Lauffer, then on the board of the WiSH Education Foundation, who asked me to come up with something. Marlee had supported numerous non-profit events I had hosted with the help of many others in the past, including our first, Pour Into Sandy, which was followed by Pour Into Haiti.
Fast forward to A Toast and a WiSH – a wine event I pitched to the powers that be from the then brand-spanking-new Newhall Library and the WiSH board, where I excitedly explained what I wanted to do, including turning the private study rooms into tasting rooms for the night, etc.
After co-hosting and/or covering nearly every wine event in Santa Clarita, I soon realized: we have a lot of these, seemed like every week there was another wine tasting. At the same time I was probably sipping on a Manhattan, fresh from a cocktail class, and reading a book on spirits.
And that’s when it dawned on me: a real out of the box idea would be to orchestrate a cocktail event. I added the roof idea to make it that much more new. I didn’t want it to be a footprint of any other food or wine event so our vendors could either do a cocktail, mocktail, or a food using spirits. And I also wanted single spirit vendors.
Amy Daniels, the Executive Director if WiSH did all of the legwork, including rallying up a committee of like-minded people to help.
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Everything fell perfectly into place, so much so that we are already planning next September’s #COTR17.
So what are you waiting for? Get out that cocktail recipe book and start experimenting. Note: if you are a wine drinker I would suggest not imbibing more than two in an evening as you aren’t yet used to the difference in alcohol percentage. And call Uber.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com