Australia’s biggest drinks event wrapped up earlier this week after four action-packed days dedicated to the craft of the cocktail, fine spirits, mixology and the bar industry as a whole. And what a week it was! With postcard perfect sunshine over Sydney Harbour, the Drinks Fest officially rocked The Rocks with 3,213 people flocking to the Overseas Passenger Terminal for the General Public Day (Sunday, 23 September) and the Trade Day (Monday, 24 September) as well as hundreds more attending packed out dinners, tours and parties all over Sydney.
Drinks Fest Rocks!
For the first year ever, this traditionally trade-only event swung the doors wide open for the General Public and they responded with gusto. 1,327 people piled in to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at The Rocks on Sunday get a look at the best cocktails, spirits, and booze-related geekery the country has to offer. Seminars such as ‘Tiki Safari’, ‘Hands on Mixology’ and ‘Why everyone should love Tequila’ were jam-packed. “It was fantastic to see the General Public respond so positively to what has been an exclusively trade event for the last decade,” said event founder, David Spanton. “It just goes to show how far the bar industry has come in the last few years with punters genuinely interested in cocktail culture, good quality spirits and mixology.”
Come Monday morning and the Drinks Fest once again opened its doors but this time, just for the trade. Bartenders, bar owners and industry professionals packed the OPT once again with 1,886 in attendance. One of the most impressive things about this trade event is the sheer number of attendees that fly in from around the country to sample the latest and greatest products and brush up on their all important drinks knowledge in sessions such as ‘Japanese Spirits’ and ‘Prohibition Cocktails’.
Dinners, Tours and Parties!
And of course, Sydney Bar Week would not be complete without the Dinners, Tours & Parties! Festivities started on Saturday with Ketel One’s CBD Speakeasy Bar Tour and ‘Get Shucked’ at The Morrison, a sold out gala dinner to kick off Bar Week proceedings. On Sunday morning, bartenders were treated to the Absolut Bloody Mary Bartenders Brunch and from there on the calendar of events rolled out.
After the Drinks Fest on Sunday, punters kicked on at the upper deck of Cruise Bar, while at ivy the Red Bull crew geared up for the launch of their Special Editions to spur Bar Week along. Spotted at the ‘Pirate Battleshots: State of Origin’ party for trade were a number of the country’s best bartenders.
Following Drinks Fest on Monday, the trade spread out over this city; some heading to the Fernet Branca Bar Back Games at The Standard while others headed to Surry Hills for the invite-only Jameson Bartenders Ball. Others were lucky enough to score an invite to the Movers & Shakers party at The Winery while a few secured tickets to a cocktail and wine debate at Gazebo. Some die-hards managed to get to every event!
Tuesday kicked off with a sold out workshop at theloft, with a stellar panel talking about “How to open your own bar and make money”, Glenfiddich took people out for a Harbour Cruise and finally, more than 600 people attended the flagship event of the week, the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards. Australia’s finest saloon owners, boozeslingers and barkeeps donned their best Prohibition style and Roaring 20s garb and congratulated each other on another fine year for the bar industry. As a key part of the new Sydney Bar Week line-up and with the picturesque waterside location at Doltone House, the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards proved once again that it is the highlight of the bar industry calendar.
Check out some photos from the week below — there’s more on the way soon!