Portland Cocktail Week Announces Programming for 10th Anniversary Edition

Portland Cocktail Week, a week-long educational event that provides bartenders with the tools they need to take the next step in their careers, this week unveiled the programming and top instructors of its upcoming 10th anniversary edition, including a new major, Bar Management & Leadership. The event will be held on November 10-15, 2019 in Portland, Oregon.

With more than 1,500 bartenders and hospitality professionals expected to attend, Portland Cocktail Week offers practical, tactical and hands-on training with a tight focus on the business of the bar. Portland Cocktail Week pioneered banning spirits and cocktails from its classrooms and offers its programming free of charge to enable universal access. It is presented by Lush Life Productions, the only singularly-focused bartender advocacy agency in the U.S.

“We are very excited to unveil the programming and talent for our 10th anniversary edition, which is quite a milestone,” says Lindsey Johnson, founder & lead creative, Portland Cocktail Week. “We are doing our best to provide bar professionals the tools they need to succeed, no matter their background, location or gender. In doing so, we are endeavoring to level the playing field as best we can.”

Modeled on Universities with a New Major: Bar Management & Leadership

Portland Cocktail Week is structured as a miniature university, complete with Majors, Minors, Deans and Educators. It comes together thanks to the Varsity Squad, sponsored by Q Drinks, consistingof top bartenders who oversee all aspects of the event, from transportation to liquor control to guest management. 
This year, majors include:

  1. New in 2019: Bar Management & Leadership – Provides the necessary skills to help encourage bartenders to build on their own fundamental values and capabilities that help create a state of leadership. Management is the act of empowering employees to be the best versions of themselves
    • Dean: Jackson Cannon, Owner/Bartender at The Hawthorne, Bar Director at Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Bar Director at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks (all in Boston).
    • Dean: Lynnette Marrero, Beverage Director & Consultant at Llama Inn (NYC), Mixologist and Educator for Compass Group North America, Co-Founder of Speed Rack and Consultant at DRINKSat6.
  2. Bar Ownership -Helps students understand the real world process of creating and pitching a business plan. Students will learn what goes into creating successful concepts, associated bar operations costs, building financial spreadsheet models and how an extra touch can elevate a project.
    • Deans: Angie Fetherston & Derek Brown, CEO & President, respectively, of Drink Company, the hospitality group behind Columbia Room (Washington, D.C.) and other bars.
  3. Anti-Waste – This major imagines a blueprint for a truly carbon-neutral bar. It will examine what each region and climate in North America can do with its available resources.
    • Deans: Kelsey Ramage & Iain Griffiths, founders of Trash Tiki, a globally touring education platform that gives the bar industry recipes, guidance and information on ingredient-driven waste reduction.
  4. Bartending & Hospitality – Focuses on the delimiting factor in any great bar: the person or people standing behind it, their willingness to listen and to learn, and their generosity of spirit.
    • Dean: Phoebe Esmon, former Cocktail Program Director for Chef Katie Button’s acclaimed Cúrate and The Nightbell (Asheville, N.C.). Designed and ran cocktail programs in Philadelphia for 10 years.
    • Dean: Sother Teague, Beverage Director at bitters bar Amor y Amargo, co-founder of Coup, partner of Blue Quarter and Windmill (all in NYC) and the co-host of “The Speakeasy” on Heritage Radio Network.
  5. Consulting – A form of entrepreneurship often overlooked because it lacks physical borders. In hospitality, the business of consultation is one about negotiation, creative property and systems. Students will feel inspired to chase their entrepreneurial dreams with the foundation for a profitable and conscious business.
    • Dean: Ashtin Berry, Consultant and Co-Founder of RadicalxChange, a new venture bridging the hospitality disciplines and the contributions of African-Americans.
    • Dean: Otis Florence, Bartender at Attaboy and formerly of Pouring Ribbons (both in NYC).
  6. Applied Science – Helps students solve bar problems using scientific concepts and thought processes without expensive lab equipment. Topics include clarification, carbonation, cocktail balance and milk/fat washing.
    • Dean: Dorothy Elizabeth, Head Bartender of L’Avenue and Le Châlet (NYC). Studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan and pioneered modern laboratory techniques behind the bar.
    • Dean: Jared Sadoian, Bar Manager of the award-winning cocktail lounge The Hawthorne (Boston) and Assistant Bar Director of the seven-restaurant group it is a part of. 
    • Donny Clutterbuck, Primary Bartender at Cure (Rochester, N.Y.),  Caretaker of Pour Cost App, Treasurer and President/Founder emeritus of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild’s Rochester, N.Y. chapter.

Minors Addressing Pressing Societal Issues and Concerns

Minors include Personal Finance by Mia Love and Kyle Zimmerman; Entrepreneurship by Jennifer Colliau; The Healthtender by Amie Ward, which are classes presented by Ketel One focused on meal planning, exercise and self-care for bartenders, as well as Green Dot Sexual Assault Prevention Training by Alberto Lorenzo of Alteristic, which is mandatory for all students.

Free, Inclusive and Unbranded Bartender Education

Students are selected via application with considerations for gender, geographic and racial equity. This year, more than 2,000 bartenders applied for 384 student spots. Unlike most bartending conferences, Portland Cocktail Week never charges bartenders to attend events and offers scholarships covering room and board, as well as transportation. This makes bartender education available to those who need it most, including underserved women, people of color and LGBTQIA+. An industry pass is available for purchase by non-sponsors, cocktail enthusiasts and the general public. In addition, no beverage alcohol is served in the classroom, nor are brand sponsorships of classes allowed, ensuring unbiased education.

Branded Festivities Outside the Classroom

While spirits brands cannot sponsor individual classes, they happily support Major courses of study and ancillary activities throughout the days and evenings that promote their brands, while encouraging networking and camaraderie. They include:

  1. Breakfasts by Ketel One
  2. Lunch by Chambord
  3. Happy Hour with Fernet-Branca
  4. Espolón Cocktail Fights
  5. International Cocktail Karaoke Showcase presented by Tequila Patrón
  6. Fever-Tree Dinner
  7. Campari Market
  8. Mashups with Corby, Wray & Nephew, Don Q, El Mayor, Collectif 1806, WhistlePig and Old Forester
    1. These events combine concepts from a local Portland and an out-of-town bar to create a one-time fusion 
  9. Q Drinks Happy Hour
  10. After-Parties by Amaro Montenegro and Hennessy
  11. And more

Other Portland Cocktail Week Programming Highlights

  1. Brown and Balanced – A series of pop-up bar events created to celebrate African-American bartenders and other bartenders of color that is sponsored by Uncle Nearest and Ardbeg.
  2. Career Counseling – Each morning, students and mentors are matched based on their mutual interests for hour-long career counseling sessions. Presented by Redemption Whiskey, it is organized by Chris Manis and Joshua Gandee (Columbus, Ohio), who are both former students.
  3. Field Trips – Learning goes beyond the classroom, with guided educational field trips around Portland.
  4. Bartender Showcase – To leverage the geographic diversity of the student body, one bartender from each of 25 major cities is tasked to demonstrate what their local scene is all about. 
  5. Exhibition Space – Brands will activate daily in a special exhibition space and showcase their liquid wares and ancillary products.

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