The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2016

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Page 122 of 132

122  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2016 ARIZONA COCKTAIL WEEK BRINGS OUT the Big Guns COCKTAIL WEEKS O ver the past five years, Arizona Cocktail Week has become a force in this industry, with some of the best brands and bartenders from around the world gathering in Scottsdale, AZ in mid-February to celebrate the craft and the culture of the American cocktail. This year, it was impossible to walk more than five feet without running into a long-lost industry friend or having an impromptu meeting with a spirits supplier at the Hotel Valley Ho's bar, and with the industry's support firmly rallying behind it, Arizona Cocktail Week 2016 was another one for the record books. Making this year's festivities even more special, AZCW founder Kim Haasarud launched an Arizona Cocktail Week National Buyer's Program, wherein spirits buyers who oversee a variety of big-name programs received a sponsorship to attend and experience Arizona Cocktail Week. "It was a natural progression," explains Haasarud. "There are so many cocktail events, trade shows, etcetera, but not many are really geared toward National Account buyers. We thought Arizona Cocktail Week would be a great way for many of these buyers to get to see and meet many key players in our industry as well we see what's on the forefront. We created some specific programming for them, as it related to their field, and gave them and their spouse VIP passes so they could really enjoy the many festivities happening… Plus, who doesn't want to enjoy a little Arizona sunshine in the dead of winter?" The response from the buyers was enthusiastically positive: "The National Buyer Program was well organized and intimate," said David Morgan, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Omni Hotels. "There were several key takeaways for me, ranging from developing our own vermouth to finding what might be a more efficient and cost effective way to take the beverage industry." "We've gotten phenomenal feed- back from the buyers," continues Haasarud, "and from the brands. Many of the brands have never had the opportunity to meet some of the buyers, so it would good to see some of those introductions and relationships blossom. So many ideas and wheels turning. Next year, we'll expand the invitational to include more opportunities to meet suppliers one-on-one. It was a great environment to inspire new ideas that fit into their national account framework." —Rachel Burkons Janel Holmen, Director, Beverage Growth and Innovation, BJ"s Brewhouse; Mat Snapp, Director of Beverage, Fox restaurant Concepts; Mary Melton, Beverage Director, PF Chang's; Kim Haasarud, Founder, Arizona Cocktail Week; Stacey Smith, Beverage Director, The Pappas Group; Mike Ryan, Director of Bars, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants; Jessica Lambert; Celia Waddington, Ignite Creative Services. Mixologist Adam Seger; Nate Wright, Beverage R&D Manager, The Cheesecake Factory; Steph Steil Hoppe, Chief Marketing Officer, LYFE Kitchen; Kim Haasarud, Founder, AZCW; Jon Baer, Beverage Operations, The Cheesecake Factory. ANOTHER YEAR OF GROWTH AND FUN IN THE SUN AT ARIZONA COCKTAIL WEEK

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