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  • Writer's pictureTyler Haley

Nashville Cocktail Fest 2022

📸 Photo credits go to Laurie Dicus, at Laurie Dicus Photography. Thanks Laurie! 📸

You know when the annual Nashville Cocktail Festival rolls up on the calendar, it's bound to be a great weekend! Jon Yeager of PourTaste hired Drink Like Royalty as festival staff to be in charge of communication between vendors, brands, food trucks, and guests for the weekend's festivities.

Last year, the festival was spread out over five days and across many bars and event spaces throughout town in order to facilitate everything from spirit/brand educational classes to cocktail competitions. This year, they wisely decided to condense it all into one weekend and hold it (mostly) underneath one large pavilion space in Nashville's premier park facility, Centennial Park.

Let the festivities begin!

Our day started at about 9:30am on Friday, when I met up with Jon and our friends Derick and Rachel, who were also hired to staff the event. We all spent time moving picnic tables into place, running various last-minute errands, directing vendors to their respective tables and areas throughout the NCF footprint, and staking down many, many tiki torches for our Luau-themed Friday night event. As the hours passed while we worked, Jim Beam set up their mobile distillery display

(no joke!), Fernet Branca set up a small pavilion where one could walk up and sample a variety of their aperitifs and cocktails, and approximately a dozen and a half local bar programs and brands set up their tables underneath the main park pavilion and prepared many cocktails for the night's festivities. There was a VIP section where those who purchased the VIP experience enjoyed a whole hog roast, swag bags from Diamond Reserve Rum, and endless free water bottles - a necessity while one makes their way through Nashville's finest Cocktail Festival.

16:00 rolled around, and the festivities began! There was a line extending from the check-in table out to the roadway where some people assembled in normal summer clothing, and others took the event more seriously and showed up in their best beach attire. J. Rieger Co. presented guests with a welcome cocktail upon entry, and Desert Door Texas Sotol had their bus set up with three taps that poured out Ranch Waters, Palomas, and Margaritas. Remember Desert Door from earlier this summer? These are the folks who flew last year's cocktail competition winners out to their distillery and ranch properties for a week! It sure was glad to see Bobbi and Lucas again, only this time it was on our Tennessee turf.

Below: Bobbi Hitchon, our favorite Sotol-slinger giving Nashville what they came for!

The evening was definitely a success. I could tell the atmosphere was lively and chill as the night went on and I went between checking in guests and facilitating the vendors cups and ice. Everyone was enjoying the cocktails and company, and they were especially enjoying the food brought to us by Nadine Moore (@birriababenash) and Roasted Coconut. All the delicious birria tacos and cocktail samples I had that night set me up for a good night's sleep, which I needed for another early start and a long day ahead.

Below: Chris Wilkins with Jeptha Creed Distillery, shaking up some refreshing summer cocktails for the guests.

As Saturday morning approached, we had already sold out of tickets to Fernet Branca's sponsored Aperitivo Brunch. The chef who had prepared yesterday's hog roast also prepared two lovely breakfast bread puddings for us, one with chocolate and red fruits, and the other as a savory option containing asiago and tomatoes. Both were delicious and very satisfying. Those who had bought tickets were treated to a variety of aperitivo cocktails, such as Punt e Mes Highballs, Fernet Sours, and Borghetti Espresso Martinis. We all hung out in the shade of Centennial Park's trees and enjoyed our brunch and each other's company. Around 1pm, the brunch attendees cleared out so we could set up for desert Door's Cosmic Corral themed evening 🔫🤠🌵

Below: Our friends enjoying the wonderful end of summer day with Fernet Branca cocktails.

We quickly got to work replacing those tiki torches with 9' tall inflatable UFO Alien Abduction props, and many of our vendors and brands arrived dressed up in their best "Space Cowboy" gear 👨‍🚀 Many of that night's attendees did the same. Desert Door held another cocktail competition where four bars made innovative Sotol-based cocktails, and each guest got a token to vote for their favorite cocktail. This year, the folks at Stationairy (@stationairynashville) inside Union Station won for their fresh strawberry Sotol cocktail! I wish I had snapped pictures of each competitor's cocktail -

they were all so good.

Below: The kind crew at @denimnashville went all out with their Cosmic Corral gear 🚀👽

(Slides) 1: Laird's Applejack Co. showcasing their products. 2: Castle & Key Gin booth.

3: Bar director JA Harrison with @leloupnash giving out samples of his Sotol cocktail submission.

Eventually, the clock rang 10 and we sent off another successful Nashville Cocktail Festival with a toast. The staff stuck around to take down banners, wrap up extension cords, and to move tables. Although we were all exhausted at the end, everyone was in great spirits because we all knew that our hard work had paid off. I'll be sure to see Derick sometime soon at The Twelve Thirty Club, or even at Edit Hendersonville where he'll be bartending when it opens up this fall! 😋☕🥘🍹

A special and warm thanks to Jon & Lindsey Yeager for having Drink Like Royalty out for another PourTaste event, and thanks to our vendors and sponsors listed below. Follow Nashville Cocktail Festival on Instagram to be one of the first to know about next year's event! Cheers as always 🥂

Vendors, Bar Programs, & Sponsors

🔵 Click on the sponsors below to explore 👇

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