The world of whiskey can be difficult to traverse. Luckily, Los Angeles magazine’s Whiskey Festival continues to bring uninitiated tasters and experienced spirit enthusiasts together for a night of celebration.
This year, the event took place under the big top at Two Bit Circus in DTLA. It was certainly a change in pace from previous years in various museums as the vendor booths were seductively spaced between a variety of classic and modern games that helped guests unleash your inner child (especially those with a love of skeeball and VR).
But it wasn’t all whiskey and games. The second story lounge catered guests with coffee samples, barber services and freshly rolled cigars. This year’s larger venue also helped make it the best year for the food with a wide variety of sweets and savories to help fortify for the night ahead.
There is always a well-rounded mix of established whiskies, such as Four Roses and Maker’s Mark, the latter of which who had their own red-lighted lounge serving specialty cocktails. But it was great to see an array of smaller local distilleries like R6 from El Segundo and Infuse Spirits with the smooth Broken Barrel Bourbon Cask Strength. I was also delighted to discover Uncle Nearest Premium Aged Whiskey, which was showcased in their Tennessee Buck cocktail featuring ginger liqueur, ginger beer and fresh lime. It was highly refreshing, but I loved sipping it straight to truly appreciate the hints of spice and maple.
This year also featured more vendors with cocktails made with their signature blends. I think this is a welcomed change as it’s another way to bring more people to whiskey who may not know of its versatility or who don’t prefer straight samples. Kikori set the bar high with two of the most well-crafted cocktails of the evening. The first was their Japanese Gold made with yuzuri liqueur, lemon juice, and clove infused honey syrup. The second was their play on a Manhattan with the delicious Three Strands of Rope.
Attending Los Angeles magazine’s Whiskey Festival over the years has significantly helped me go from a whiskey-newbie to an aficionado. I implore you - if you have even the slightest interest in bringing out your love for whiskey, you should make attending the festival on your must-do list!