For Sacramentans who have ever pondered the mystery of what makes a cocktail special and want to sample new, classic, exotic and experimental cocktails, then they will have the opportunity beginning Monday.
Midtown Cocktail Week is coming back to Sacramento for the fourth year, and for seven nights, 15 designated Midtown or downtown bars and restaurants will be featuring specialty cocktail events.
For more information and a full list of events, click here.
“It’s good for business, (but) not in the monetary sense,” said Jason Boggs, co-owner of Shady Lady Saloon. “It lets people in Sacramento know they can drink better, and that makes quality of life better for everyone.”
Midtown Cocktail Week was founded by mixologists Erick Castro and Joe Anthony Savala in 2008. Their goal was to elevate cocktail culture in Sacramento and to provide an educational and cultural experience for locals according to Heather Philpott, communications coordinator of the Midtown Business Association.
Accompanying the special cocktail events, there will be bartending classes offered to public as well industry-only classes.
Shady Lady Saloon, located at 1409 R St., will host the opening event, titled “Women and Cocktails.” It will be an evening celebrating female palate and their role in modern-day cocktail making.
Boggs said that Shady Lady Saloon will be bringing in prominent female bartenders from across the country to showcase their skills. Charlotte Vosey and Jaqueline Patterson of William Grant, based in New York will be guest bartenders. Others will include Brooke Arthur and Morgan Young from San Francisco, Summer-Jane Bell – Vice President of the United States Bartender Guild and Delema Aseere of Montanya Distillery.
“There’s definitely a perceived notion that the alcohol industry and the bar as being a man’s realm” said Chris Tucker, bartender at The Golden Bear and Shady Lady Saloon. “But you look throughout history and there are key female figures throughout alcohol (making), tavern, pubs, bars. Women have had a key role in all of those avenues – wine making, brewing, distillation.”
Tucker and Boggs are co-chairing venue development and education for Midtown Cocktail Week.
Boggs, who was the former head chef of Cafe Bernardo and R15 and has spent the last two years behind the bar, is still experimenting and deciding which cocktails to showcase at Midtown Cocktail Week.
He is working on two still-unnamed cocktails. One is made with gin, Cocchi Americano, Maraschino, lemon juice and naturally-sourced rose petals.
The second cocktail is made with fresh muddled black berries, Brazilian Cachaca – made from fresh sugarcane that is distilled and fermented, fresh lemon juice, lemon bitters and topped with Brut.
“These blackberries and roses grew together,” Boggs said. “When I put this in front of (people), they are going to smell Sacramento summer.”
The biggest draw of cocktail week will be at Red Lotus Kitchen and Bar on Tuesday when the restaurant will host a mixology competition said Boggs.
Bartenders and Mixologists from 10 Sacramento bars and restaurants will compete to win $400. The founders of Midtown Cocktail Week, Erick Castro and Joe Anthony Savala, will serve as judges and oversee the competition. Frank Jakubka, a professional taster for Remy Cointreau will serve as the third judge.
The format of the competition will be punchbowl style. Their cocktails will be mixed in a punchbowl for all to see.
Red Lotus Kitchen and Bar is setting up monitors and speakers throughout the restaurant so that it can accommodate patrons.
Mixologist Rene Dominguez, inventor of the White Linen cocktail, will be competing. He said he came up with the White Linen when he was working at Ella Dining Room and Bar. In 2009, Shady Lady Saloon offered the cocktail on its drink menu, and it became a local sensation.
“I think it could become a signature cocktail for Sacramento,” Boggs said.
Though the White Linen is gin-based, Dominguez said he has more of an affinity for rum- and whiskey-based drinks. He also favors cocktails with minimal ingredients like the High Plains Drifter and the Cora Middleton #2 featured on their special menu for Midtown Cocktail Week.
Named after the 1973 western, the High Plains Drifter is a brown cocktail made out of Luxardo Amaro – a herbal liqueur also known to help digest food, lemon verbena, bitter lemon and tonic.
Aside from the High Plains Drifter, Red Lotus will be offering The Countess, Scottish Peche, Picasso’s Daughter, and Cora Middleton #2 each night during Midtown Cocktail Week. These drinks will be $7 each.
Zócalo, 1801 Capitol Ave., will be hosting A Night in Cuba 5 – 9 p.m. Aug. 18. Co-owner Jim Johnson said the Latin theme lends itself well to their menu.
There will be cigar-rolling recreation on the patio, according to Noe Hernandez, general manager at Zocalo. He said they will be serving Old Cuban, the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Cuba Libre, Demerara Punch and the Dark and Stormy. For $20 patrons will be able to sample the cocktails.
Cuban hats will be distributed to customers.
The Citizen Hotel and Grange will presenting be presenting “The Greatest Cocktail on Earth” Aug. 19. The Citizen Hotel Ballroom, 926 J St., will be transformed in a circus-themed party. The Vespertine Circus performers will put on a show beginning at 7 p.m.
Admission is free and upon arrival guests will be served a sample of Carni Punch. Drink tickets can be purchase for $8. There will be circus-inspired cocktails including Ice Monkey, Lion Tamer, Big Top and Bearded Lady.
The Golden Bear 2326 K St., will host the closing of Midtown Cocktail Week . Co-owner Kimio Bazett said he has been overseeing the preparation for the tropical luau-themed party that will be held at The Golden Bear and in the back lot. Admission is free.
Bazett said that they will be featuring six unique cocktails that he and his bartender are in the process of developing. Two will be whiskey-based, two will be tequilia-based and two will be rum-based.
General Manager Jane Gribbon said that local bands Snobs and Prieta are set to perform at the party.
There will be a closing ceremony awarding the winners of the Red Lotus Kitchen and Bar mixology competition. First place winner will be awarded a trophy in addition to the $400 cash prize. Second place and third place winners will receive $200 and $100 respectively.
“The bragging rights are the most important part (of winning),” said Tucker.