For reals: What wasn’t to like? The drinks were flowing, the vibe was humming, the rooftop view was phenomenal and before long hardly anyone cared that the ice hadn’t arrived for the first-floor patio cocktails or that for a while, the only real food available was a basket of buns on the 11th floor.
A smartly primped Hendrick’s Gin rep, who has been doing these kinds of events for some time, agreed that the inaugural Craft Cocktails TX Festival appeared to have gotten off to an impressive start with last night’s VIP Party, the four-day event’s official launch on three floors of the Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa. Of course, it’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got spirit makers handing out cocktails.
The drinks were built around Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Lillet Rose and Sailor Jerry Rum. But my favorite drink of the night was a summery cooler called the Sanchito, the handiwork of Standard Pour’s Polo that involved classed up Stoli Raspberry vodka with cumin syrup, muddled raspberries and jalapeno and likely another ingredient that somehow didn’t make its way into my notes.
Other winners — Hendrick’s’ Windowsill Cooler and featuring rhubarb liqueur and vanilla cream soda, and the Margarita Popsicle crafted by Whiskey Cake’s Bonnie Wilson, the winner of Oak Cliff’s Margarita Meltdown earlier this year.
There were drinks dressed as snow cones, drinks with rose petals and Manhattan magic served up by Hudson Whiskey’s former chief distiller Gable Erenzo, who now handles the brand’s sales and marketing. By night’s end, many — including festival co-founder Brian McCullough of Standard Pour, Charlie Papaceno of Windmill Lounge and the Libertine’s Mate Hartai — had left their mark on a massive posterboard that captured the evening’s mood for posterity.
The real essence of the festival starts today with a full lineup of workshops led by some of DFW’s best bartenders and various liquor luminaries from around the country. I’ll be live-tweeting with the hashtag #CCTX, if you want to follow along.