Craft, much like artisanal, is a word frequently bastardized. Every Tom, Dick and corporate brand is trying to worm their way into this trendy niche. But truly, craft spirits are the best of the best. Small-batch blends are well worth choosing over Absolut or Jose Cuervo.
And teaching the public about such spirits is Jen Massolo's mission. She's the woman behind the Spirited Sirens blog and female-focused event series. Recently, she also launched CRAFT to educate the masses on all things booze and beer. Their inaugural festival kicks off at Wynwood's Soho Studios next weekend, and it's a three-day lineup of socially-lubricated learning.
After years in the wine and spirits biz, Massolo got hooked on small-batch distillers.
"Spirits themselves were really intriguing to me. Distillers have such compelling stories," she says. "The stories are just endless of true craft distillers -- and brewers for that matter. There were so many synergies I started seeing between brewer and distiller."
So, she started a new business to help spread the word.
"I started CRAFT in an effort to create a platform in which distilleries and breweries could connect with both the beverage trade and consumers," she explains.
At the heart of CRAFT is making the distinction between the real-deal and the posers. While there aren't specific guidelines (because there are too many variables), they have a rigorous process for evaluations.
"It has to do with the passion and volume. It definitely is small batch brands compared to larger volume brands for sure. It also to do with transparency -- really being honest with what you're producing and how you're producing it," she says.
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Spirits that'll be on hand at the festival include Koval, High West Distillery, Dry Fly Distilling and Benromach Distillery, Balcones, St. George, Miami Club Rum, Atsby Vermouth, Cape Distillers, Compass Box and Tuthilltown Spirits.
The weekend will feature an assortment of events, including a tasting gallery of spirits paired with creative eats; educational panel discussions on topics like, "What Is Craft?" and "The Art of Scotch Whisky Blending"; master dinners at notable eateries like Yardbird Southern Table & Bar and Michael's Genuine Food & Drink; and a craft cocktail BBQ. Tickets are sold separately for each event, so you can pick and choose what interests you. They range in price from $25 to $170 depending on the event. Check out the full lineup on their website.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.