5 Tips for Enjoying Thirst Boston

A weekend of cocktail seminars, pop-up bars, and parties. With Thirst Boston entering its fifth year, here are five ways to make the most of your time.

Let me tell you about the first time I attended Thirst Boston.

Since the event was only in its second year, and I was still fairly new to the cocktail world, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I signed up for a few seminars and figured I’d just go where the day took me.


But as soon as I walked in, I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store. It was a cocktail enthusiast’s dream – pop-up bars handing out drinks, an entire room devoted to spirits distilled in New England, and dozens of interesting classes on cocktails and the beverage industry. And this was only Day 1!

Well, by the time I caught myself nodding off in a tiki drink seminar (when I was supposed to be carving a pineapple), I wondered whether I would even make it to Day 2.

What could have been...

What could have been...

Flash forward to 2018.

Thirst, which kicks off this weekend at the Boston Center for Adult Education, has become New England’s premier cocktail festival. Seminars throughout Saturday and Sunday offer something for attendees of any skill level, from novices wanting to learn how to taste spirits to seasoned pros looking to master advanced ice-carving techniques.

At night are the marquee events: State Lines, where regional breweries and distillers share their wares in an urban carnival setting, and the Blender Bender, featuring teams of costumed bartenders competing to see who makes the best blended drinks.


Oh, and you won’t catch me nodding off in class anymore. This will be the fourth time I’ve attended, and in the intervening years, I’ve learned to get through two days of boozy education without stumbling into the nighttime functions. That’s good for all sorts of reasons, not least of which because there’s a lot to discover and plenty of cool people to meet.

So as Thirst enters its fifth year, here are five tips to help you make the most of this special event.

1.    Try everything – but don’t drink everything. Any seminar you’re attending will probably have at least four samples of a spirit or cocktail. When class is dismissed, you’ll likely find yourself at a themed pop-up bar. Next seminar – more samples. Then, behold! Another bar has popped up!

You can see where this is going.


I can understand not wanting to waste one drop of a quality spirit. But unless you want your day to end at 2 p.m., it’s OK to dump a little down the drain.

2.    Eat beforehand. You’d think an event such as this would have local restaurants on hand offering sample dishes and food trucks lining up outside the BCAE.

Surprisingly, you’d be wrong.

For whatever reason, there’s little (if any) food available on site during the day. So have a big breakfast, stash some snacks in your bag, and scope out a few nearby spots where you can dash out for a quick bite. You don’t want to be nibbling on citrus garnishes for nourishment. [Update: I'm told that food trucks will be at Thirst this year, which is good news. But I'm still planning on a hearty breakfast.]


3.    Ask questions. This isn’t some sales conference where every conversation feels transactional. Everyone I’ve talked with at Thirst, from presenters to brand ambassadors, has seemed genuinely passionate about their product or subject. For the most part, they’re only too happy to respond to your questions, hear your thoughts, and share further insights with you.

4.    Try an interactive seminar. Most of these seminars aren’t overly taxing. You just listen, learn, and sip. But you can shake things up a bit with classes that are more hands-on. One of my favorite seminars last year was about how to make boozy pastries and confections. This year you can blend your own scotch, make your own ginger beer, and of course, mix up a couple of cocktails.


5.    Don’t be late to class. It’s just inconsiderate.

Are you attending Thirst Boston 2018? For more info and to buy tickets, click here. See you there!

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