San Diego Spirits Festival Returns This Weekend

The San Diego Spirits Festival is returning for the third time this weekend, June 25-26, offering tastings from brands such as Milagro Tequila, Sailor Jerry Rum and Svedka Vodka.

This year the event will be at a new location, the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier near Downtown — what the event coordinators describe as “an expansive oasis surrounded by the sparkling San Diego Bay.”

According to its website, the San Diego Spirits Festival is “a two-day celebration of spirits, cocktails and local culture (and) the only event of its kind on the West Coast.” It will feature dozens of alcohol vendors, artists, educational seminars, bartending competitions, live music, a cabaret-themed VIP party, and unlimited food and cocktail tastings.

Radio station Sophie@ 103.7 will also be hosting “A Musical Cocktail,” which will present live performances of several local bands, including Skyler Stonestreet, The Darrows and Josh Damigo on Saturday, Dominic Balli on Sunday, and Kevin Martin on both days.

Many new brands will debut at the festival this year, including the highly anticipated launching of Tempest, a brand based out of La Jolla and created by Mark Scialdone of Suspend Spirits. The alcohol is a green tea liqueur with a mystical blend of six intoxicating herbs and absinthe.

The 2011 festival will also be the first to feature artists. “This year, 32 of San Diego’s best artists will be exhibiting their work in the public forecourt upon entering the venue,” event founder Liz Edwards told sandiego.com. “We want everyone to be visually wowed with what we have going on.”

Returning this year will be the cocktail competitions, with 16 of the city’s most talented mixologists competing. The semi-finals will be held on Saturday and the finals will be Sunday.

For Edwards, the goal is for creators and consumers of spirits to mingle in a fun environment. “I’d love to be able to showcase this type of event here and bring about some resurgence in the cocktail lounge scene,” she said.

One-day tickets for the festival can be purchased starting at $60 and include unlimited tastings. VIP tickets can also be purchased beginning at $90 and include access to the bartender battle and admission to the elite Saturday night after-party.

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