On January 27, The Golden State of Cocktails organizers previewed their inaugural conference and festival, which is happening in L.A. from January 26-28, 2014. Cocktail and spirit world heavyweights like Cedd Moses and Skyler Reeves from 213 Nightlife, Eric Alperin from The Varnish, and Aidan Demarest from Neat and Tello Demarest Liquid Assets greeted people inside the LA Times building with French 75’s, announced the festival, and welcomed guests to enjoy an interactive cocktail experience that included rotovap machines, a Cali ice sculpture, and a bottle-your-own cocktail bar.
Reeves, 213’s Director of Operations, began the presentation by saying, “California is a worldwide leader in a lot of things: technology, cuisine, entertainment, and lot of people don’t realize it’s also a leader in cocktails…This event celebrates California as being one of the global leaders in our industry.”
He was initially motivated to help create a California-focused event after attending Tales of the Cocktail and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic a few years back. “I had been a longtime bartender and manager, and what I was surprised by was the enthusiasm for these events, the number of people who could come out: bartenders, barbacks, enthusiasts. It was inspiring to me,” said Reeves. “There was not really a festival like that to capture California and how it does cocktails, so we felt there had to be a festival. What we found is that other people felt the same way. We weren’t the first people to think about this. A lot of people had very similar ideas, if not the exact same ideas…everyone wanted to be involved with it, so we put together this advisory board.” The board consists of 17 individuals, some who work with cocktails and spirits on a daily basis like Polite Provisions owner Erick Castro and H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir; and others who don’t, like Coastal Luxury Management co-founder Dave Bernahl, and dineLA Director Stacey Sun.
Eric Alperin, who moved to L.A. six years ago from New York and eventually co-founded The Varnish, took to the podium and said, “You can’t go to a store and buy a bottle of changing culture, but you can go to a bar and buy a glass of it.” Off stage, he elaborated. “What makes us unique, aside from we’re driving everywhere and we have beautiful beaches, is the fact that it’s a very young community that’s become a movement in the last six years,” said Alperin. “What’s exciting is we’ve gotten to a point where we’re ready to spread our wings and make an impact. The entire state, San Francisco leading the way and us taking inspiration from them here in Los Angeles, and San Diego has taken from L.A., and I mean that in not only the most humble way, but the most rewarding way, when your peers are ready to share. To me, being part of a movement is what we all want to be part of.”
Proprietors LLC partners David Kaplan and Alex Day are heading education for The Golden State of Cocktails. Kaplan said they intend to create a “true hands-on educational experiences, but very small format, in new and innovative ways.”
Cedd Moses, the 213 founder who’s been synonymous with downtown, urban development and of course cocktails, doesn’t just see The Golden State of Cocktails as a Los Angeles event. He said it’s a “celebration of California cocktails, thinking on a larger scope in terms of this event and California, as our brothers down in San Diego, our brothers up in San Francisco. Combined, California can compete with any other area worldwide, in terms of cocktails. We’re thinking more global in terms of this event and elevating California together.”