Celebrate good drinks, good food and good friends at Cheers, Fairplex's annual summer wine soiree, which is being re-branded with a new name and new emphasis on all the international competitions. Cheers - L.A.'s Wine, Spirits, Beer & Food Festival will be held Saturday, June 22 with tastings of the award-winning wines, extra virgin olive oils, spirits and beer from the Los Angeles International competitions. Enjoy food trucks, a silent auction and dance the night away with a DJ spinning the latest tunes. Relax in the Wine Garden, learn about the latest brews in the Beer Tavern or try a new distilled beverage in the Spirits Lounge. Tickets are $50 per person. Group packages are available. Proceeds from Cheers will benefit the educational programs of The Learning Centers at Fairplex. Tickets are now available at www.tlcfairplex.org/cheers
or by calling (909) 865-4207.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby, try this easy Mint Julep recipe from our mixologist at the Finish Line Sports Grill.
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
32 fluid ounces Maker's Mark Bourbon
8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish
1.Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves
2.Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person's sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.
Uncorked - Spring Edition
It's Competition Time!
The arrival of spring not only brings flowers, birds and sunshine but gold medals. The 74th annual Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits competitions are just about a month away. This year’s spirits competition is being led by Dana Chandler, who has brought in a new panel of judges to taste the best distilled beverages in the world. Read more about the spirits judges in this edition of Uncorked. The competition is May 20 & 21.
Wine expert extraordinaire Michael Jordan again heads the wine competition, which is slated for May 15 & 16. Deadline for entries for both wine and spirts has been extended to April 30. Check out the web page at www.lawinecomp.com for details.
Judging of the northern hemisphere extra virgin olive oils took place in March (read more on the winners here), with southern hemisphere oils being judged in July. The deadline for the July evoo event is July 3. Beer will be judged in June.
We’re looking forward to awarding honors to the best of the best. Don’t forget: award winners of all the competitions will be tasted by the largest audience on earth - visitors to the Wine & Spirits Marketplace of the L.A. County Fair. The Fair celebrates its 91st anniversary this year. We’re expecting a party for 1.5 million!
A Polish elder statesman, a salesman, a restaurateur and a big city journalist walk into a bar...
Waiting for a punch line? There isn't one for this story because when these four belly up to the bar it's no joke. It's a rare chance to share in their deep expertise for spirits. And they are just four of the notable judges on this year’s panel of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.
Joining this year's eclectic council are Tadeusz J. Dorda, Brian Bowden, Chris Snyder and Jessica Gelt. Dorda is chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Podlaska Wytwórnia Wódek “Polmos” S.A., the historic distillery in eastern Poland that owns and produces Chopin Vodka. A champion of authentic Polish vodka, Dorda is working steadfastly to change Western perceptions of a spirit that is far more complex, with many more subtleties in taste and quality, than is widely recognized. Bowden, vice president Spirits, Beer, Beverages & Tobacco, GMM New Markets for BevMo!, has more than 32 years of experience in the beverage industry in all departments: wine, beer and spirits. He has worked in the retail side of the industry as well as sales.
Snyder is president of TAPS Fish House & Brewery and The Catch Restaurant. Under his leadership, the restaurant’s revenues grew from $5 million to nearly $10 million in annual sales. Gelt is a food and nightlife writer for the Los Angeles Times. She has reported extensively on cocktails and cocktail culture. Her cocktail recipe column, “Destination: Cocktail,” runs twice a month in the Saturday section of the paper.
The competition, May 20-22, is led by Chairman Dana Chandler, vice president and general manager of Chopin Vodka. Chandler has spent 30 years in the wine and spirits industry. Beginning with Gallo Wine and Kendall-Jackson, he has held a succession of wholesaler and supplier positions managing all channels of business, including on-premise, off-premise, chains and clubs.
“I am truly excited to be this year’s Honorary Chairman of the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. Fairplex has a long tradition of wine and spirits competition excellence that we intend to build upon with this year’s event,” said Chandler. “We have assembled a best of class judges panel featuring buyers, owners and representatives from all aspects of the spirits industry including distribution, retail, on-premise, production, mixology, design and media. This diversity will bring balance, focus and growth to our tasting. Our goal is to build the LAISC into the best, largest and most prestigious spirits competition not only California but the U.S.”
The judging panel also includes:
• Kevin J. Johnson, vice president of the Golden State Chain Division at Southern Wine & Spirits.
• Josh Wand, founder and motivator-in-chief of BevForce, a boutique recruiting and staffing agency that specializes in hiring strategies and organizational structuring for beverage companies.
• Michael Nemick, a restaurant veteran and well-traveled foodie. He is a managing partner in red clay industries, a cocktail consulting and hospitality organization and is currently working as a managing sommelier at West Hollywood restaurant Sirena.
• Ryan Steely, a creative design entrepreneur working with leading brands in the alcohol industry.
• Toshio Ueno, a Master Sake Sommelier & Shochu Sommeiler, Jizake Educator.
• Tricia Alley, director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits, Southern California, United States Bartenders Guild Los Angeles Chapter President
• Tim Moore, vice president Central Coast Branch Manager Young’s Market