Midtown Cocktail Week will raise your drink awareness
Words & Photos Anthony Giannotti

What is your favorite alcohol? Whiskey? Vodka? Tequila? How do you like to drink said favorite libation? Sip it? Shoot it? Mix it? Well no matter what your drink of choice is or how you prefer to get it down your throat, Midtown Cocktail Week will have an event for you. This week of cocktail enlightenment will be held Aug. 9—15, 2010 at various locations around Midtown Sacramento. It isn’t a week for just getting trashed and throwing up on your neighbor’s lawn–being a little tipsy may be a by-product of the festivities–but this week’s focus is cocktail education and appreciation. “Our goal is to educate people,” says Joe Anthony Savala, one of the event organizers and founder of the drink program at Zocalo. “We want people to drink better. People in Sacramento are eating better than ever, so why not drink better? We want them to know what fresh ingredients taste like. We also want people to get out and try new stuff!”

Education is an apparent theme in the week’s list of activities. Starting off the festivities on Monday will be L Wine Lounge, where the theme will be the art of drinking well, and timely drinks. They will be showing how you should be drinking through an entire meal, from aperitif to digestif. “We are excited to be involved again this year,” says Chris Tucker, lead mixologist of L. “We are trying to raise people’s expectations of their local bars.”

Tuesday’s events will give some of the local bartenders a chance to show off their chops with a mixology competition. This cocktail creation competition has a similar format to Iron Chef. The battle for cocktail king will take place at Lounge on 20.

For all you whiskey enthusiasts out there, De Veer’s Irish Pub will be showing off their impressive whiskey selection with their Whiskey Around the World tasting on Wednesday. The whiskey experts at De Veer’s will be sharing some pretty intense knowledge while helping you find a whiskey that suits your palate. So come with a thirst and an open mind. Shady Lady Saloon will be handling Wednesday’s after party, as well as hosting a number of their own events throughout the week. “We are really excited about this event,” says Shady Lady bartender Travis Kavanaugh. “We have different events going every night of the week.” Just a few of the special attractions at the Shady Lady during Midtown Cocktail Week will include a Don Julio presentation, a tiki-themed night, live hand-rolled cigars and visiting guest bartenders from San Francisco’s prohibition-themed saloon Bourbon and Branch.

“We really want people to know how much better fresh hand crafted cocktails taste,” Kavanaugh says.

Tequila guru Joe Anthony Savala breaks down Thursday’s activities at Zocalo. “I love Latin spirits–mezcal, pisco and tequila,” he says. “We want people to enjoy them as much as we do, that is why we are doing a mezcal tasting and education.” Zocalo will be sampling different mezcals from different regions of Mexico. They will also be demonstrating how you can make simple, fresh drinks from south of the border at home. As if a smorgasbord of tequila and regional Mexican food isn’t enough, notable fine dining restaurant and bar Ella will be dispensing late-night drinks and tastings to finish off the evening.

The new dim sum restaurant Red Lotus will be starting off Friday with specialty block ice cocktails. If you have not had a chance to indulge at Red Lotus, this would be a great time to sample from its diverse menu and try an Asian fusion cocktail. Grange will be closing out Friday with some local spirits and food pairing. To say that Sacramento is proud of its local produce is an understatement; we like to see it in our local restaurants. The staff at Grange Restaurant are also very strong believers in the slow food movement. “We have some really neat local alcohols and fresh local ingredients, as well as some very high profile bartenders guest spotting,” said Ryan Seng, mixologist at Grange.

We all know that The Golden Bear is known for their enticing front patio, tacos and $2 Miller High-Life, but on Saturday afternoon, be sure to investigate their newly remodeled back patio and freshly devised cocktail list. Sunday will kick off at Hot Italian for some unique Italian cocktails. I don’t know exactly what Italian cocktails consist of, but I’m sure my fellow I-tie’s will bring more flavor than Steve Zissou’s campari and grapefruit juice concoction. Sunday night the wrap party will be held at The Torch Club. The Torch Club was founded the year Prohibition ended, so come dressed in your best suspenders and flapper dresses. It will be a Prohibition-themed party featuring five classic drink recipes.

Remember these are just a few of the events at a few of the locations. Check Midtowncocktailweek.org or ask your favorite local bartender for a full list of events.