About Cocktails & Culture Festival

Cocktails & Culture Festival 

Read 2016 highlights on Gourmet Girl!

“New Mexico’s Cocktails & Culture is a way to discover Santa Fe’s culinary treasures as well as rich music, art and cultural heritage. The venues where the cocktail events took place were most varied and interesting, best of all was the opportunity to become acquainted with the talented and enthusiastic bar community there. We look forward to returning!” ~Jill and Dale DeGroff

“What can I say about the first Santa Fe Cocktail Festival other than AMAZING! Natalie Bovis produced a fantastic Festival that celebrated the art of the Mixologist, creative cocktails and world class hospitality…I can’t wait to see what is in store for us this year!” ~Tony Abou Ganim


Cocktails & Culture is Santa Fe’s Most Spirited Festival featuring interactive Spirited Seminars & tastings by globally recognized experts, cocktail parties,  Chef & Shaker Challengepeople who love to eat and drink , and new business opportunity for those in the beverage industry.

Cocktails & Culture Cocktail Week runs in featured bars and restaurants in Santa Fe and Albuquerque leading up to the festival. Official participants feature their own signature cocktail, and guests vote online for “Cocktail of the Year” and “Bartender of the Year” in each city. Winners announced and presented with a trophy at the Craft Collective and Awards, June 4, 2017.

NMCC  2017 Schedule of Events:

  • May 26 – June 3: Cocktails & Culture Cocktail Week, Santa Fe and ABQ
  • Friday, June 2:
    • 9:30 – 10:30 am Mind Body Spirits
    • 1 – 2:25 pm The Hustle: From Behind Bars to Dream Gig bartender seminar with Eric ET Tecosky
    • 6 – 9 pm Margarita Trail TACO WARS!
  • Saturday, June 3:
    • 8:30 am Tony Abou-Ganim leads the 35-mile bike ride benefitting the Helen David Relief Fund
    • 12 – 1:30 pm Negroni Brunch
    • Chef & Shaker Challenge at Scottish Rite Temple, $85 ticket includes:
      • 5 – 6 pm VIP Cocktail Reception with Dale DeGroff
      • 6 – 7 pm Dale DeGroff’s “On The Town” cocktail cabaret
      • 7 – 10 pm Chef & Shaker Challenge
  • Sunday, June 4:
    • 12 – 1:15 pm Whiskies of the World with Bobby “G” Gleason
    • 2 – 5 pm Craft Collective tasting and Cocktail Week Bar Awards

What is mixology? Mixology is the liquid piece of the culinary world, entailing history, geography, distillation, fresh ingredients and passion interwoven with our social fabric. Quenching the thirst for education in spirits and training in classic cocktails and techniques is what we refer to as “mixology.”

Is “mixology” different than “bartending?”  The hospitable profession of bartending has deep roots in American history. In the Wild West, the bartender often held social importance equivalent to the mayor because saloons and churches were the heartbeat of social interaction, with the bars being just a bit more lively! Famous bartenders from the 1800s, and many of their concoctions, are still revered today. When Prohibition was enforced between 1920 – 33, some of America’s most important bartenders moved to Europe, enlightening cocktailians abroad by elevating lounges such as the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London, as only one example. Meanwhile, in the mid 20th century, American cocktail culture was all but lost to bad booze and ‘drinking for intoxication’ rather than sipping a well-crafted drink for the pleasure of the palate. Over the last couple of decades, our cocktail culture has struggled to reestablish itself as an elevated piece of the culinary universe, and the study of spirits and early recipes has swept the globe.

Why is this important?  The famous quote, “Show me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are” can also be applied to imbibing. A restaurant’s wine and beer selections are often chosen with great reflection but spirits and cocktails have often been after-thoughts. Throwing any spirit and sweet mixer into a glass was considered “enough.” However, for any self-respecting culinary community, this is no longer the case. Similar to a trained chef and carefully-crafted menu, a distinguished beverage program means selecting fine products, and training a passionate staff in classic recipes and proper technique. The bar is the most profitable part of a restaurant – it should also be the most dazzling. With New Mexico’s reputation as a culinary destination, it’s time to “raise the bar.”

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