Craft Spirits & Beer returns to Miami this weekend in a different location and with a new format.
The event, which spotlights the artisanal, will take over the Fillmore Miami Beach January 30 and 31, with Friday reserved for the trade only and Saturday open to the public.
Craft founder Jennifer Massolo says she dedicated a special day exclusively for bartenders, food-and-beverage directors, chefs, distributors, and hospitality industry professionals because their needs are different. Massolo says these industry insiders are on a "professional reconnaissance" mission. "They know craft cocktails, beer, spirits, and ciders are king right now, and we provide a three-hour tasting where they can learn about new and authentic products."
Saturday's public event, Massolo says, "is focused on pairing artisan spirits, ciders, and beers with great local foods from chefs and producers." The spirits maven says attendees this year can expect an "amplified version of what we touched on in our first show."
In much the same way that people are turning to unprocessed foods in their everyday diets, they are seeking small-batch spirits and craft beers as an alternative to big corporate brands. Massolo says her event is a great way to get introduced to independent distilleries and breweries across the country. "Craft is designed to highlight artisans and introduce new products to the hospitality industry and the general public through tastings and conversation. Getting to know the stories behind these producers is key. We liken it to the farm-to-table movement that artisan foods are enjoying." Most of the spirits that will bepresented at the fair are available in the Miami retail market.
Craft will feature more than 200 spirits from around the world, including whiskeys, rums, and small-batch mezcals. Look out for low-alcohol vermouths and sherries and rhum agricole from the French Caribbean, which Massolo says are trending. "They take our palates to new levels."
Which is Massolo's go-to spirit? "The group at the Broken Shaker can attest that I love sipping some of their fine mezcals neat. However, when I'm at home, I love a gin and tonic with St. George Botanivore."
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Craft's complimentary trade day (Friday, January 30), dedicated to vendor tastings and panel discussions, is closed to the public. The trade tasting hours are noon to 3 p.m., followed by panel talks beginning at 3 p.m. Trade tasting admission is free with registration at craftspiritsandbeer.com. Current proof of employment is required.
The consumer tasting gallery experience is open Saturday, January 31, from 4 to 7 p.m., and tickets cost $65 per person. VIP experience allows you access to the event at 3 p.m. and a rare-spirits tasting.