As usual, there were numerous education opportunities, pop-ups, parties and celebrations. Today I will only highlight those that involved vodka. Here's a rundown - in no particular order - on brands that were there participating:
1. Union Forge Vodka - new to the market from Pennsylvania, this unique jug-shaped bottle with crisp taste was a huge hit. I was privileged to score a customized filled flask as a takeaway.
2. Ciroc - Hosted a tasting chateau featuring the limited edition Passionfruit, amongst their other flavors. I honestly hadn't tried them all and must say I enjoyed the passionfruit more than I thought I would.
3. Grey Goose - Hosted a huge 25th Anniversary Party featuring classic bars like The Rainbow Room recreated in rooms throughout venue. I was able to snag some limited edition anniversary pins on my way into the secret bar through a coat closet. Was a bit overcrowded, but who doesn't want to celebrate with them?
4. The Community Spirit - Pop-up takeover promoting Book set benefiting HEARD.ORG featuring local bartenders from around the country. The cocktails here were unique and creative.
5. Absolut Elyx - A last minute pool party held at a beautiful Garden District hotel - The Chloe - made this conference complete. They held a multi-day event each year, so I was disappointed to learn they wouldn't be participating this year. BUT they came through - complete with some of the best ceviche I've ever had! Of course, copper everything everywhere added to their fabulous ambiance.
6. Haku Vodka - Beam Suntory sponsored speakeasy with rotating cocktail menu hourly by era and pop-up performances throughout the day. Was my favorite place of the whole event.
7. Chopin Vodka - Launched small-batch Organic Rye vodka at pop-up and hosted a tasting room complete with scrumptious desserts.
8. Smirnoff Vodka - Promoting their Spicy Tamarind flavor and special enamel lapel pin to commemorate their limited edition flavor. They held a street corner pop-up with great local bites like lemon-pepper wings, chicken sliders and crawfish etouffee nachos.
9. Ketel One - Justine's takeover highlighting those Born to Cocktail. I especially loved the photographer available for capturing that perfect moment (cover photo).s They also had a swag station at the Diageo Family Reunion included lapel pin sets, notebooks, and mule mugs.
10. Reyka Vodka - Tales (Or any conference) just isn't the same without my cocktail ninja himself, but life happens and goes on. This year they only participated in the WGS portfolio events, but still stayed true to their Iceland roots while serving cocktails in ice shot glasses, traditional branded ice sculpture and ice bench with puffin friend for photos.
11. Wodka Vodka - small presence as part of the Indy Spirits room, but just as good as I remember it.
12. Vodka Ready-to-drink brands - Canned cocktails by Royal Lemonades, Oldknow Bev Co, Spirited Hive, and Death & Company Aurora Highball made for great on the go drinks while walking from event to event.
13. Mendel Vodka - (3BR Distillery) Best of Awards Winner from New Jersey and made from garden peas. Was unexpectedly delicious!
I'm so ready for the next one and look forward to what the new year holds for all of them.