Every calendar year we see a ton of lists predicting what to expect in spirit and cocktail trends over the following twelve months. Some are right on, some are kind of meh… but this year I’m going straight to the horse’s mouth to get a SUPER SNEAK PEEK of what is ACTUALLY HEADING TO MARKET.
GUYS. There’s going to be over FOUR HUNDRED exhibitors covering 210,000 square feet of space in the Caesars Palace Conference Center. (Who can send me a backup liver??) But seriously, I will be on the ground getting as much inside information as I can on what you can expect in the coming months and years. ARGH! I’m so excited!
This event is only for those in the trade– typically, the general public doesn’t get let in. Except for you guys, who can check out what’s happening LIVE (thank you Periscope and Snapchat) and can ask questions in real time. Like when will Channing Tatum’s new Born & Bred Vodka be available, or what flavors Lisa Vanderpump’s new sangria line will come in. (And when’s she going to admit she was wrong and apologize to Lisa Rinna?)
If you’re picking up a theme here, yeah, it’s true, there’s going to be some celebrities (George Clooney launched his Casamigos Tequila here, as did Dan Aykroyd and his Crystal Head Vodka), but no, I will not ask ANYONE to sign my bottles. This year, let’s see… Aron Ralston, fearless adventurer and subject of the hit film “127 Hours” (where James Franco had to amputate his own arm). Tito Beveridge, founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka will receive the Sidney Frank Award (given annually to a person who has made exceptional industry contributions in addition to noteworthy philanthropy and community service). And Christie Brinkley will be cutting the ribbon to start the whole thing off.
A few of the key players in the industry we’ll be tasting with in their suites include Temperance Distilling Company, MHW, Ltd, Heaven Hill Brands, Anchor Distilling Company, Imperial Brands, Kindred Spirits, William Grant & Sons and many more. Some of these names might sound unfamiliar, but it’s more than likely that they’re the makers behind your favorite brands.
Tuesday April 19: 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wine & Spirits Tasting Competition Sponsored by The Tasting Panel magazine, this competition features a panel of highly esteemed wine and spirits experts judging nearly 1,000 wines and spirits exhibiting at the convention and awarding medals in dozens of categories.
Wednesday April 20
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Call for Cocktails Mixology Competition
1:30 – 4:00 p.m. Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition
Thursday April 21: 12:45 – 2:15 p.m. Brand Battle The Brand Battle provides a unique opportunity for brands to pitch themselves, Shark Tank-style, in front of a panel of industry influencers and wholesaler decision makers.
We’ll also be attending a number of professional seminars featuring inside tips from bar and nightclub owners regarding connecting with customers or reading global trends, and even just practical advice like how to get lipstick off your vintage Nick & Nora glasses (well, that might not be covered but I’m betting there will be someone there who can answer that question).
Anyway, I hope you guys are as excited as I am to get the inside track on the industry’s view of the trends… Rum has been huge this year and is still predicted to keep rising… And the 2015 show premiered a number of new Latin American spirits (new to the US market, anyway) that later showed up in bars and stores across the US.
One of the big trends from last year’s convention was barrel-aged gins, so, to celebrate and get ready for this year’s fun, I’m sharing the winning cocktail from last year’s WSWA Call for Cocktails competition that featured BlueCoat Barrel Finish gin:
Barrel Hidden in the Tropics (2015 WSWA winner by Chris Chamberlain, Portfolio Manager and Mixologist for Philadelphia Distilling)
1.5 oz Bluecoat Barrel Finish gin
0.25 oz Montenegro Amaro
0.75 oz Honey Syrup
0.25 oz Lemon juice
1.25 oz Smoked Pineapple juice
Bar spoon of Greek Yogurt
Okay, guys, thanks for reading through! Again, the WSWA convention is THE launch pad for the cocktail products you’ll see everywhere in the coming year. Join us LIVE from Vegas April 18-21 and make sure to ping me with questions and what you want to see!
This month I’ve been trying all the cocktails and eating all the foods so you only have to try the best.
If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles this year and want a few recommendations as to where to drink (or eat), leave us a comment below or send an email (or social media, or WHATEVER way works for you).
It may not feel like Spring where you are, but here in Los Angeles many of us are scratching our heads asking where is this wet, cold weather we were all told was coming. But in just a few weeks it will be Spring, so everyone’s new cocktail menus are going to start rolling out around town. (In fact, they’ve already started and you can peep a few like these above ^^^) Keep your eyes tuned to the Stir and Strain Instagram and Snapchat for the next few weeks as we test drive some menus here (and beyond!).