Bartenders and other spirits experts will create unique and flavourful concoctions at the annual Art of the Cocktail event at Crystal Garden. The event is a fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival. Photo contributed

Taste what’s trendy at Art of the Cocktail

Victoria Film Festival fundraiser spotlights creativity blending spirits and other ingredients

If you’re a bit adventurous, enjoy a rousing social outing and have a desire for supporting independent film, Art of the Cocktail has all the bases covered.

This year’s 10th annual Victoria Film Festival fundraiser, set for Oct. 13, presents the latest in cocktail creations, made by talented mixologists, distillery staff and restaurant bartenders, all to help the festival continue to screen quality independent movies.

Festival director Kathy Kay remembers the evolution of the event:

“We were thinking about what we could do to raise more funds and screen more films, and I was very much into cocktails at that time,” she recalls. “The craft side of it was just starting to emerge, in places like Vancouver and Seattle.”

Try something new at the Art of the Cocktail event at Crystal Garden. Photo contributed

While nailing down the exhibitors continues to be a little stressful, she admits, there’s few worries about whether the event will sell well.

“I think people love it because it feels like a special event,” Kay says. “A lot of women go. We have groups who go together and they love that they get to dress up in their best after-five cocktail wear.”

With an eye to that fact, the evening features a best-dressed competition, which should be even more interesting this time around with an Old Hollywood theme enveloping the Crystal Garden. The winner receives four tickets to the opening gala of next February’s 25th Victoria Film Festival.

On the vendors side, Ryan Malcolm is an experienced bartender who will be back representing Sooke-based Sheringham Distilleries at the event. He likes how it connects professionals who enjoy creating imaginative new drinks with people keen to try concoctions that can be out of this world.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to see our eclectic cocktail community under one roof,” Malcolm says. “It takes the seeking and the hunting out of the equation and brings those awesome vendors to the consumer.”

Looking at the trends, he says many bartenders are taking advantage of natural elements around them – think the 100 Mile Diet – to make their cocktails unique and bursting with new flavours.

“There’s a particular emphasis on using wild or foraged ingredients … some people are even using reclaimed invasive species. You’ve got farm to table and now you’ve got forest to table, that whole area is expanding and it inspires other people to reach out for other ingredients and try new things.”

Beside providing attendees a chance to try multiple different options and vote on their favourites, two Cocktails Up Close workshops will teach people how to best utilize bar tools in creating cocktails (Kyle Guilfoyle and Nathan Caudle from The Nimble Bar Co.), and how to get the most out of your cocktail creations (Gez McAlpine from Vancouver’s Keefer Bar).

Tickets, $65, are available at artofthecocktail.ca or at the Victoria Film Festival office, 1215 Blanshard St., Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

editor@mondaymag.com

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