A Look Back at Thirst Boston 2017

When you attend a weekend-long cocktail festival that culminates with a team of cross-dressing bartenders claiming victory in a frozen drink competition/dance party, you know you’ve had a pretty interesting few days.

With Sunday night’s Gender Bender Blender Bender at Whisky Saigon, Thirst Boston 2017 officially drew to a colorful, playful close (not counting the after parties). The irreverent competition capped off two full days of educational seminars and several nights’ worth of themed cocktail parties and tasting events.

Focus on Learning

It probably goes without saying that the weekend was fun – what sort of cocktail conference wouldn’t be? – but the emphasis was truly on education. Whether the topic was tequila or entrepreneurship, all of the seminars were led by accomplished professionals who take their craft seriously.

 Thirst co-organizer Nick Korn pours a Toki Highball at the Friday night opening party.

Thirst co-organizer Nick Korn pours a Toki Highball at the Friday night opening party.

The result was a diverse program of interactive classes geared toward aspiring bartenders, pros looking to sharpen their skills, and anyone who appreciates cocktails and spirits.

Collective Exuberance

This was my third time attending Thirst, and what stood out most to me this year was the energy that permeated the event. It’s always inspiring to meet people who are truly passionate about what they do for a living, and their enthusiasm can be contagious.

I could describe a number of Thirst presenters that way, but none more so than Véronique Van Acker-Beittel, a Belgian-born Vermont resident who founded the first company to import Belgian genever to the United States.

Listening to her describe the long, fascinating history of genever and the challenges of introducing it to American bars and retailers was one of the high points of the weekend for me.

And I wasn’t the only feeling more enlightened than light-headed. As attendees poured out of seminars and into various on-site pop-up bars, everyone seemed excited to talk about the class they’d just come from and where they were going next.

 Pastry chef and bartender Kate Holowchik whips up carrot cake cupcakes with Mount Gay rum buttercream frosting in a seminar on making boozy pastries.

Pastry chef and bartender Kate Holowchik whips up carrot cake cupcakes with Mount Gay rum buttercream frosting in a seminar on making boozy pastries.

There was simply a palpable, shared enthusiasm among presenters, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees that made the weekend truly memorable. (OK, maybe a few memories are hazy.)

With Thirst Boston 2017 in the books, here’s a look back at a fun, educational, boozy weekend.

 Saturday morning rum sampling.

Saturday morning rum sampling.

 The family that juggles together....Will and Moe Isaza teach functional flair. Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise.

The family that juggles together....Will and Moe Isaza teach functional flair. Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise.

 The Inspired Beverage Tasting pop-up gave attendees a chance to try a bevy of spirits and talk with brand representatives from all over the country. I sampled more mezcal than I care to admit.

The Inspired Beverage Tasting pop-up gave attendees a chance to try a bevy of spirits and talk with brand representatives from all over the country. I sampled more mezcal than I care to admit.

 Rhode Island bartenders mix up some Brockmans gin cocktails at State Lines.

Rhode Island bartenders mix up some Brockmans gin cocktails at State Lines.

 Don't Tell Mama, made with Brockmans gin, dry curacao, ginger liqueur, lime, and bitters, at State Lines.

Don't Tell Mama, made with Brockmans gin, dry curacao, ginger liqueur, lime, and bitters, at State Lines.

 Another beauty from State Lines. The Smugtown Swizzle, made with Angostura white oak rum, Amaro di Angostura, spiced coffee demerara, lime, and a whole mini-bottle of orange bitters.

Another beauty from State Lines. The Smugtown Swizzle, made with Angostura white oak rum, Amaro di Angostura, spiced coffee demerara, lime, and a whole mini-bottle of orange bitters.

 Hanging out with Lonnie Newburn of the Boston Shaker, one of Thirst's sponsors. I don't really remember taking this picture...

Hanging out with Lonnie Newburn of the Boston Shaker, one of Thirst's sponsors. I don't really remember taking this picture...

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Copyright © Boston BarHopper. All Rights Reserved.