The latest major city to launch its own annual cocktail-centric event is Boston, where, come October 4-6, bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from all over New England will gather in the area’s first-ever citywide cocktail event. The chartable event is just the latest of these sorts of seminar and drinkathons, and in advance of the three-day celebration, we decided to check in with organizer Alexei Beratis.
Mix: City-based cocktail events are becoming more and more popular these days - what sets the Boston Cocktail Summit apart?
Alexei Beratis: This is two parts: first, we named it the Boston Cocktail Summit to reflect Boston as the host city. The cocktail summit is focused on bringing the quality educational seminars and events that we see elsewhere to New England. The second item that sets it apart is the historical aspect; we are rich in so much history and much of that history’s planning began in the taverns over punch and ales.
Mix: What are some of the seminar and event highlights?
Beratis: There are so many great seminars, from David Wondrich presenting "Greasing the Hub: How they made ‘em in Boston," and Steve Olson presenting "The Agave Sessions," to our own Jackson Cannon presenting "Making your own Vermouth" and Domingo Barreres presenting "Making Sense of Scent: The Science of Smell." An event that has yet to be done at any cocktail event is our "It’s A Roast," which will be in classic Friar’s Club style. This year we are roasting Gaz Regan and nothing is sacred! Another highlight is the "Rum for All" tasting and seminar by Paul Pacult. He has done this in a couple other cities to sold out audiences, and we expect the same here. We are also thrilled to have the show "On The Town" with Dale DeGroff.
Mix: Is there something you consider unique to the Boston cocktail scene that you'll include?
Beratis: I like to think our cocktail establishments are all unique, they all show the many facets of the cocktail scene here. During the Boston Cocktail Summit, we have tried to do some seminars and events at these establishments to showcase how we are unique here.
Mix: From looking at the seminars, this seems to be geared toward professionals only - is that the concept, to appeal to the pro, and any home cocktail geek - or do you need a broader appeal to make this work?
Beratis: I think we have included a lot of seminars that appeal to the public in general, for instance Sandy Block on "How to Order a Great Wine Everytime" and Tony Abou-Ganim’s "Making Great Gin Cocktails at Home," to some basic understanding seminars on tequila and gin. We have also tried to schedule so that the professional seminars are during normal business hours and more consumer seminars and events during the Saturday time slots.
Mix: As for the Boston cocktail scene, what do you consider the strengths there, compared to other cities?
Beratis: We are fortunate to have a vast variety of spirits and ingredients to work with in this market. This has led to opening up the creativity of many bartenders here. We also have bartenders who take pride in what they do and therefore continually educate themselves to produce outstanding cocktails and environments built on hospitality.
Mix: I'm guessing you want to repeat this event - what are your goals in terms of attendance and participation, from industry companies and local bartenders?
Beratis: This being our first year, we hope to have 2,500 attendees over the three days. We have seen fantastic support and participation from the industry as well. It’s as if they have been waiting for this to happen here. It also gives our locals an opportunity to showcase their talents to many who may not otherwise come to Boston, but will return as a dining and cocktail destination.
Mix: What's your favorite drink right now?
Beratis: Rye Manhattan up with a twist.