SAN DIEGO SPIRITS FESTIVAL 2016: “A Party on the Bay! How hip is your drink?!”



Michael Hepworth


SAN DIEGO SPIRITS FESTIVAL 2016: “A Party on the Bay!” “How hip is your drink?!”





San Diego Spirits Festival

The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier


“A Party on the Bay!”


By Michael Cohan

San Diego ( – The people at Stolen Rum seemed to sum up the 8th Annual San Diego Spirits Festival with their infamous moniker, “How hip is your drink?!” Well we we’re all hippin’ and sippin’ on the Port Pavilion at the Broadway Pier this past Saturday and Sunday enjoying the libations and palpitations of a vibrant party that Founder and Event Organizer Liz Edwards brings to culmination every year. Liz and her team have succeeded in bringing together a collection of high end distillers that reward the consumer with their exquisite liquors.

Saturday was the foodie day and the festival provided plenty of smoky flavor to match the smoky spirits! Cuisines included Mexican, bbq, and Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse offering fish, tacos, and ceviche and too much more. There we’re two stages providing entertainment all day. Three very friendly and attractive burlesque dancers pranced and walked around delighting the crowd. Two beautiful aerialists hanging upside down was the kicker especially after sampling those specialty liquors.

 Bartender Battle Judges
Bartender Battle Judges

Sunday’s main event was the Bartender Battle in which the cocktail inventors had 10 minutes to create their special drinks for the judges. My editor and I spoke with one of the bartenders, Heath Weatherby who concocted a drink called the “What’s up Doc” in which his main ingredient was a gin named Sacred, just delicious. However the winner in this event was the Mescal cocktail.

Mescal cocktail Bartender Battle
Cheech Marin’s Mescal cocktail Bartender Battle First Place Winner


Mezcal is known for its mystifying qualities and connection to Mexican ritual and mythology. The heritage of mezcal goes back almost 500 years and is embedded in Mexican tradition and folklore. Our mezcal is a gift bestowed by Mother Nature, grown wild high atop the mountainside in Guerrero, Mexico. It is distilled from the WILD CUPREATA agave plant and is 100% handcrafted by the Maestro Mezcalero, using a family recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. This cupreata agave variety offers a smooth taste with a distinguished consistency, producing a rich and lightly smoked mezcal flavor with elegant herbal and citrus notes. The entire process is vigilantly supervised by the Maestro Mezcalero to produce one of the purest spirits in the world—a spirit that delights the palet with its complex and intriguing flavor and mystical experience.


Heath Weatherby who concocted a drink called the “What’s up Doc” Second Place
Heath Weatherby who concocted a drink called the “What’s up Doc” Second Place


The Bartender Battle Winners
The Bartender Battle First, Second, Third Winners



Michael Hepworth Bartender Battle Judge
Michael Hepworth Bartender Battle Judge


Ranking my three standouts in drinkability, flavor, and smokiness in no particular order was The Bad Stuff tequila from Oceanside, The Stolen Rum from New Zealand, and Cheech Marin’s Tres Papalote Mezcal from Jalisco. Also throw in the Sweet Potato Vodka and Dwight Eubanks Gin. That now makes it a top five. What about the Tequiponch! You get the picture! Their all great in their own way and with great stories backing them up!

Dwight Eubanks Gin Winner
Dwight Eubanks Gin Gold Winner
Dwight & Michael
Dwight & Michael
The Bad Stuff Tequila Bronze Winner


Of course all of the cocktails and liquor were enjoyed by all. It was like a smorgasbord of drinking heaven! These master crafters have learned by experience how to utilize their tools to produce the finest thirst quenching libations making this festival one of Fodor’s finest ranking parties this side of the Mississippi!   Visit Liz Edwards website at to learn more about the burgeoning cocktail scene coming out of San Diego and beyond.



Event organizer and founder Liz Edwards Spirit of San Diego

Bayside at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier 

 San Diego Spirits Festival is a destination event that targets industry insiders, consumer cocktail and culinary lovers alike, it’s a nationally acclaimed celebration of cocktail culture and it is the premiere West coast spirits festival held on the beautiful San Diego bay. With bartender competitions, tastings, seminars and parties, the festival offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands to be supported and gain recognition among San Diego’s cocktail and culinary community and beyond.

 Taking place at the end of August each year, the San Diego Spirits Festival is committed to building the Mixology and Culinary community and garnering local and national exposure for the brands that participate.

 San Diego is California’s second largest city, and has experienced an exciting cocktail revolution. Now getting ready for its EIGHTH year, the San Diego Spirits Festival attracts high-profile members of the spirits and culinary trade, affluent consumers and local bar and restaurateurs who are passionate about San Diego and the West coast’s burgeoning cocktail and culinary scene.

Photography: Tom Wright



Michael Hepworth

287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211


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