Have you heard about the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, coming this May? I had heard a little bit, but not enough to understand the full scope of what this represents for Southern food (and drink) culture, and not enough to be willing to fork over the $$$ necessary to attend the full slate of seminars, tastings, and shindigs, but now…. well, let’s say I’ve heard enough to seriously consider it. It is not inexpensive, but the quality and breadth of seminars, tastings, and Southern talent that will be on display is simply mind boggling. Enough so that I feel the need, the desire, to share my top ten reasons for the Southern spirits (and wine and beer) fan to check it out. So here goes…
- Classic Cocktails of New Orleans Seminar, with Dale DeGroff, “King Cocktail” – Sazerac anyone? Vieux Carre?? Yes, please. Participants will learn to mix, shake and stir the classic drinks of the South’s cocktail capital.
- Reserve Tasting: Bourbon, with Julian Van Winkle, III, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery – Our love for all things Pappy has been well documented. Need we say more? (Please note, I’m pretty sure this reserve tasting is for high rollers only, unlike the rest of the seminars and tastings mentioned in this post)
- Coke-tails Seminar, with Greg Best, Holeman & Finch Public House – How can you go wrong with Atlanta’s hometown carbonated beverage of choice, in the hands of Greg Best? Participants in this interactive demonstration will explore the flavor profiles of the South’s favorite soft drink, while mixing unique drinks.
- Booze & Chocolate Seminar, with Scott Witherow of Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co., and Corsair Artisan spirits – Oooh, this should be good.
- Build a Bar Double Demo, from the fine folks at H&F Bottle Shop – Participants will explore three perfectly-appointed bars – Whiskey Bar, Classic Cocktail bar and Southern Brunch Bar – and learn how to build their own.
- The Bizarre Story of Southern Blue Laws, with Dr. Chris Baker, Ph.D. and moonshine expert – What could be more topical in the midst of the Sunday sales debate??
- Noble Rums Seminar, with Ed Hamilton, “The Ministry of Rum” – Rum is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance right now, this should be enlightening.
- Tasting Tent & Street Cart Pavilion – this includes a bourbon tent curated by Julian Van Winkle, III (not to mention a whole pig tent curated by Chef Kevin Gillespie). Hallelujah.
- White Lightnin’ Seminar, with Junior Johnson – As a young man, Junior Johnson developed his driving skills while running moonshine on mountain roads in North Carolina, which led him to a hall-of-fame career as a NASCAR driver. He’s now doing the legal moonshine thing with similar success. Sure to be some good stories in this one. Junior was a key player in the book, Chasing the White Dog.
- A Southern Boy Goes to France, with Jon-David Headrick – learn the story of how a boy from Nashville was inspired to become one of America’s most promising specialty wine importers. Good guy, good stuff.
Seriously, check out their website for more info – this is just a very small sample of what the festival has to offer, and there is more news to come in the next few weeks (heck, it’s only February, the festival is still three months away). In fact, here are TEN MORE great seminars you might be interested in that will be part of the festival:
- Breakfast Cocktails, with Neal Bodenheimer, Cure
- Wine Pairings Demystified, with Andy Chabot, Blackberry Farm
- Exploring Argentina Wine, with THE Susana Balbo, Mendoza, Argentina
- Southern Craft Brewers Spill It, with Bob Townsend, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- How to Taste Blind, with Michael McNeill, Gina Hopkins, Ryan Mullins
- Escape to Greece (Wine), with Pano I. Karatassos, Buckhead Life
- Beer & Cheese, with Tim Gaddis, Star Provisions, and Terrapin Beer
- The Green Fairy (Absinthe) Resurrected, with Ted Breaux, Jade Liqueurs
- Vitis Vinifera Down South: The Final Frontier?, with Mary Ann Hardman, Persimmon Creek, and Bernard Delille, Biltmore Winery
- Sommelier Round Table, with Andy Chabot, Virginia Philip, Clint Sloan, and Stephen Satterfield
Full Disclosure: The folks behind the festival provided lunch to a bunch of bloggers and media, myself included, as they shared the details of the festival.