Heading into its third year with massive expansion throughout the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas, “For The Love Of Cocktails” brings the spirit of the nation’s top food and wine events into spirits, mixology and cocktails. The three-day affair, held Wednesday, Feb. 10 through Friday, Feb. 12, will encompass a variety of dynamic forums, bar crawls and lavish dinners, culminating with the Grand Gala “tasting” event.
Presented by top spirits consulting, marketing and design firm, BACK BAR USA, “For The Love Of Cocktails” will span Downtown Las Vegas, as well as venues throughout the Las Vegas Strip in partnership with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment. The United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) will once again play a prominent role in the event through bringing in top mixologists and bartenders from across the nation. The event would not be complete without world-renowned mixologist and author Tony Abou-Ganim, whose non-profit, the Helen David Relief Fund for Bartenders Affected by Breast Cancer, receives proceeds directly from the ticket sales.
“Las Vegas is now one of the top destinations in the nation for mixology,” says BACK BAR USA owner, Tim Haughinberry. “We’ve developed ‘For The Love Of Cocktails’ because Las Vegas is really the ideal place to bring people together from other top cocktail cities, places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and New Orleans. This is an opportunity for bartenders, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts from all over to converge and enjoy a week full of cocktail-focused entertainment, as well as learn more about the latest techniques, trends and spirits.”
The “For The Love Of Cocktails” Grand Gala, the pinnacle of the event, will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 at Alain Ducasse’s Skyfall Lounge, located on the 64th floor of Delano Las Vegas. Showcasing more than 25 mixology stations by local, national and international bartenders and contemporary live entertainment, the gala will also feature passed hors d’oeuvres and other gourmet bites prepared by Ducasse.
In addition to the Grand Gala, which is anticipated to draw tens of thousands of guests, “For the Love of Cocktails” will present an exciting lineup of seminars, activities, mixers and more to celebrate the craft of mixology. The full schedule includes:
Wednesday, Feb. 10
6 to 7:30 p.m.: Meet The Masters Of Cocktails will be held at Bound, the sophisticated lobby bar inside The Cromwell Hotel & Casino. This energetic cocktail reception will feature cocktails by Salvatore Calabrese, Tony Abou-Ganim, Francesco Lafranconi and other skilled mixologists.
7:30 to 10 p.m.: Meet The Masters Of Wine will be held at Giada inside The Cromwell Hotel & Casino. Guests will enjoy a five-star, five-course meal with selections by world-renowned chef Giada De Laurentiis, paired with rare, fine wines carefully selected by Caesars Entertainment sommeliers.
10 p.m.: Meet The Masters Of Distilleries will be held at the High Roller, located at The LINQ Hotel & Casino promenade on the Las Vegas Strip. The High Roller is the world’s largest observation wheel, and has become one of Vegas’ most sought-after experiences. Attendees will enjoy an after-dinner seminar 550 feet above the city, guided by various distillery brand ambassadors who will provide insight about the distillation process against the backdrop of the Las Vegas Strip. All-inclusive tickets to the “Meet the Masters” series will be available for purchase on the “For The Love Of Cocktails” website at an early-bird rate of $175 per person and a regular rate of $250 per person.
Thursday, Feb. 11
5 p.m. to 2 a.m.: The first ever “For The Love Of Cocktails” Downtown Bar Crawl will celebrate the rapidly expanding cocktail culture in Downtown Las Vegas. Each participating bar will feature its own branded cocktail experience with various DJs, live bands, specialty cocktails and other surprises. A complete list of participating locations will be posted on the “For The Love of Cocktails” website, and tentatively includes Bin 702, Carson Kitchen, Glutton, Therapy, Downtown Cocktail Room, La Comida, Inspire Theatre, Tokyo 365, Silver Dollar, Velveteen Rabbit, Park on Fremont, Commonwealth, Atomic Liquor, Griffin and Herbs & Rye.
10 p.m.: USBG Cocktail Truck Wars will be held in Vegas’ flourishing downtown neighborhood. This late-night cocktail showdown will include eight top USBG mixologists paired with eight popular Las Vegas food trucks to create eight unforgettable food and drink pairings, ultimately competing for the grand title. The USBG Cocktail Truck Wars will be the last stop on the evening’s Downtown Bar Crawl, and will award a grand prize to the winning truck and mixologist duo. Tickets to the Downtown Bar Crawl and USBG Cocktail Truck Wars will be available at an early-bird rate of $25 per person and a regular rate of $50 per person. All tickets are available for purchase on the “For The Love Of Cocktails” website, and include one cocktail at each participating location.
Friday, Feb. 12
Noon to 5 p.m.: Brand Micro-Experiences and Seminars will give attendees the opportunity to learn from nationally and internationally recognized brand ambassadors, distillers, celebrity mixologists and more. Seminars will include mixology tips and tricks, spirits conversation and hands-on opportunities.
5 to 11 p.m.: The Grand Gala at Skyfall is the most highly anticipated cocktail party of the year. Featuring more than two dozen handcrafted cocktails by world-renowned mixologists including Tony Abou-Ganim and Francesco Lafranconi, the gala will kick off with a happy hour reception at the Franklin inside Delano Las Vegas. Beginning at 5 p.m., guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow cocktail enthusiasts before the main event. VIP guests may proceed to Alain Ducasse’s Skyfall Lounge, located on the 64th floor of Delano Las Vegas, to enter the grand gala beginning at 6:30 p.m., and will have exclusive access to all cocktails, additional gourmet appetizers and entrées as well as meet-and-greet opportunities with world-renowned mixologists and chefs. Regular ticketholders will have the opportunity to enter the grand gala beginning at 7:30 p.m., and will have access to more than 25 original cocktails, tastings by Ducasse, and top-tier entertainment and surprises throughout the evening. All-inclusive early bird tickets to the brand micro-experiences, seminars and grand gala will be priced at $100, and regular tickets will be priced at $150. All tickets are available on the “For The Love Of Cocktails” website.
11 p.m.: Official “For The Love Of Cocktails” After-party
Guests may take advantage of exclusive room packages at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and Delano Las Vegas. All-inclusive VIP packages will be available at an early-bird rate of $300, and a regular price of $350. Additional information about the event, including participating bartenders and mixologists and ticket purchase details is available at www.FTLOC.vegas.
Photo by David Becker