Enjoying a few Mai Tais at the Grass Skirt, a San Diego tiki bar in Pacific Beach on a Sunday evening at an event hosted by Diplomatico Rum, is when I first got wind of something called Bartender’s Weekend.
That event’s host, Diplomatico’s rum ambassador Evan Charleston, mentioned that I should look into it, which was happening in San Diego that night and during the next two days.
I did and wow! Bartender’s Weekend – this year held on a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in late March – involves more events at more bars and locations than I or anyone else could ever hope to experience. It consists of pool parties, boat cruises (including a rum cruise!), bar crawls, Happy Hours and distillery tours, many taking place at the same time and all hosted by a host of spirits companies from around the world.
Including Kástra Elión, a vodka from Greece which hosted an “Escape To Greece” boat trip on San Diego Bay. Heck, I didn’t even know Greece had any vodka production and I’ve been to the Greek Islands five times.
My first event was an event called Bubbles and Brunch at barleymash bar in the Gaslamp, just a few steps from PubClub.com World Headquarters. Hosted by GH Mumm and Beefeater, Lillet and Campo Viejo, it involved bottomless champagne and cocktails – pay your $25 registration fee and usually all drinks are included – along with food.
From there, I made the short walk to Coin Op bar where I played a bunch of arcade games (again, all comped) at the Bacardi 90s party.
The next evening (due to PubClub’s busy schedule I was unable to attend any daytime events this year) I went to INFINUM and BEYOND!, at the Side Bar which included a tour of Infinum Spirit’s sleek new corporate office in the Gaslamp. Out front, the company’s double-decker bus, which often rolls through San Diego’s Gaslamp playing music from a band on the top, provided a soundtrack to the scene.
@pubclub.com PubClub.com Drinking Tip Of The Day Tiki Bar! #drinking #drinks #drinkingtips #drinkingtipoftheday #rum #rumdrinks #pubclub #tilkibar ♬ original sound – PubClub
From there, I embarked on what was supposed to be a downtown bar crawl. However, the first stop was the False Idol tiki bar with drinks provided by Mount Gay rum, and if you know anything about me then you can pretty much guess that I never left that place to go to any other bars on the crawl.
I was surprised that most of the events also included food, be it pizza or shredded pork or something else. Even more surprising is the fact that after the early scarfers ravaged through the food as soon as it was put out, the supply was replenished.
Being new to the event and blissfully unaware of the policies and procedures involved in it, I showed up to the first event, got a glass of champagne and then realized I was supposed to have checked in at the host Lafayette Hotel to get a welcome package of goodies and most importantly a wristband. Oops! Rookie mistake.
Fortunately, I managed to score one of the last wristbands and could freely enjoy the events.
I was kind of expecting to use the events for networking, to meet other people in the bar industry, to get contacts for the spirits brands, that kind of thing. But at least from the few events I attended it wasn’t that way; instead it was bars jammed with people partying with few conversations taking place outside their circle of friends and, I assume, co-workers.
That was fine, of course, and it reminded me of the good ‘ol days of the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas (now called the Bar & Restaurant Expo), which I covered several times. It had a show floor of beer and spirits companies pouring samples from Noon-5 but was more known for its legendary over-the-top sponsored parties at Las Vegas bars and nightclubs.
So now I know about Bartender’s Weekend and can be better prepared for it in the future, including clearing my schedule so I can enjoy a lot more of its events.