The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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82  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2015 COCKTAIL WEEKS H ere's a word kicking around in bartender circles: sustainability—the career kind. "We have a great big vision," says Lindsay Johnson, one of the found- ers of Portland Cocktail Week. "We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to stay in this business for rest of their lives." So many bartenders feel the same way that the original grassroots event in 2010 has become a major weeklong educational festival for industry profession- als nationwide. What's even more remarkable is that it's almost entirely staffed, organized and run by the bartenders attending it. This crew of people magnetized the bartending industry with its by- bartenders-for-bartenders credo, and four years later PDXCW is a white-hot week of seminars, events, idea-swapping and community bonding, modeled on a boarding-school structure. With PDXCW15 poised to become one of this year's biggest cocktail events, we asked a few of its architects, longtime organizers, presenters and new mem- bers to talk about their experiences—and about the game-changing year ahead. Steva Casey (Resident Advisor & Head of Volunteer Coordination) Birmingham, AL 3 years at PDXCW "People will always ask, 'How can I help?' I saw volunteers from last year who were students this year and students who wanted to be more involved. I really believe in PDXCW and I love it for its educa- tion aspect. Ultimately, these kinds of things will beget other smaller cocktail weeks in other cities." Jessica Sanders (Varsity & Presenter) Austin, TX 3 years at PDXCW "Here's what's changed the most: People aren't just hungrier for information; they want very specific information. The nerdier the better! We're moving towards curriculum that's instructive instead of anec- dotal. People who were students in earlier years are feeling more empowered in their knowledge and what they can share, and that spans a huge range of topics." Britany Leach (JV) Birmingham, AL 1 year at PDXCW "I really believe in PDXCW because it's fun, but it's so education- focused. I'd go to morning staff and Varsity meetings, to all my classes and then do what needs to happen to execute the events. You're so on fire about what you're learning, being tired goes out the window. I got the chance to sit across the table from Jim Meehan and Charles Joly. That was really amazing—to have two people who are so well versed in these things pass along their knowledge to you." John Nugent (Varsity & Head of Transportation) Seattle, WA 3 years at PDXCW "It's an exciting time for PDXCW. It's bigger, better, has more organiza- tion and brands are noticing. I see people from Alabama talking to someone from NYC and exchanging ideas. I feel like I meet someone new on each bus, from D.C., Arizona, anywhere." PHOTO: NATASHA MOUSTACHE PHOTO: NATASHA MOUSTACHE PHOTO: NATASHA MOUSTACHE PHOTO: NATASHA MOUSTACHE LOOKING TO PORTLAND COCKTAIL WEEK 2015 . . . WITH A WHO'S WHO OF PORTLAND COCKTAIL WEEK 2014 by Éva Pelczer The Bartender's Life

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