From SC to CA, Bevcon's First Year in the City of Angels - Bevcon 2018

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2018 marks the first year that Bevcon touched down in our fair city. Beginning in Charleston, SC in 2016 as the passion project of Angel Postell, owner of Sipindipity, Bevcon was created to pull all corners of the beverage industry together under one canopy in an accessible and exciting way. The immersive three-day experience was filled with learning sessions pertaining to the growth of the beverage industry and everything in between, beverage demonstrations, and pop-up afterparties hosted at some of Los Angeles’ most beloved drinking holes. From industry professionals to sommeliers, to master distillers, to award-winning mixologists and beyond came together to collaborate, teach, and imbibe. As our first year attending Bevcon, we were thrilled to see what the buzz was all about. On Sunday morning we gathered our team, our gear, and set out on the adventure to come.

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Hosted at The LINE Hotel in Koreatown, as attendees strolled in each morning eager for the day ahead, they were greeted by a light breakfast accompanied by Intelligentsia Coffee and an opening seminar to get everyone’s inspirational juices flowing. As the onsite bars opened, attendees were left with ample time each day to network, taste a few spirits, and even enjoy some boozeless treats such as Health-Ade Kombucha, Topo Chico, and the new and extremely refreshing non-alcoholic spirits by Seedlip. Each floor was buzzing with conversation, and while you made your way to your desired session, you could stop for a wine tasting with Binwise or even pick up new barware at the Viski store on site. 

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Participants were invited to join in on a series of learning sessions with subjects ranging from how to staff your bar, all the way to hip-hop’s influence in the world of wine and spirits. With such a tremendous network of featured hosts on board, knowledge was in no short supply. For instance, as an opening session to kick off the extravaganza on Sunday, Collaborations Without Borders, highlighted the ups and downs of collaboration through spirits. The session was hosted by a star panel consisting of San Francisco-based food and beverage writer, Virginia Miller, Founder of F.E.W. Spirits, Paul Hletko, West Regional Manager of Samson and Surrey, Jacob Haaland, and Katie O’Shea of Intelligentsia Coffee. Samples of whiskies by F.E.W Spirits were passed out as the group discussed successful collaborations and why not to be afraid of past failed projects.

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Throughout each day, we sat in on the various learning sessions available to us because, well, why wouldn’t we? With so much talent under one roof, we would have been crazy not to. One of our favorite sessions was on Sunday— Gin Methodology: Single vs. Multi-Shot, mediated by Kelli Rivers, East Coast Ambassador of Sipsmith Gin. With a panel consisting of Simon Ford of Ford’s Gin and Dave Smith, Head Distiller of St. George Spirits, we were guided through the desired distillation methods of one of our favorite spirits while we explored the subtle — and not so subtle nuances of gins from each brand.

Another session that got our gears turning was Bartending While Black: John Dabney’s Life and Legacy, hosted by highly acclaimed Atlanta bartender Tiffanie Barriere, aka The Drinking Coach, along with filmmakers Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren. John Dabney was an African-American man who was born into slavery and later became one of history’s most celebrated restaurateurs based on his hospitable nature and expertise in the kitchen. Tiffanie gave us a light introduction to the film while she served up perfectly executed mint juleps. Hannah and Lance, the husband and wife duo that directed Hail-Storm: John Dabney in Virginia, a documentary about his life, then gave us their own introduction and played the film. We sat in complete silence, entirely enamored by the film and the story of the legend himself. With a captivating closing to the session by Tiffanie, we left feeling heavier and completely moved.

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Monday and Tuesday wrapped with Meet the Makers, where each day 25+ vendors were given the opportunity to participate in tastings and sample premium bottlings from some of the industry’s most innovative producers. Monday featured wine and beer vendors such as Hoxie Spritzer, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, and SakéOne, while Tuesday’s Meet the Makers highlighted spirits such as Copper & Kings American Brandy Company, Maker’s Mark, and St. George Spirits. This was the perfect opportunity for attendees to mingle and wind down after the day with a glass in one hand and a heap of branded goodies in the others.

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Now, let’s get down to the parties. After the daily festivities came to a close each afternoon, the evening held a series of strategically placed pop-up bars at some of LA’s favorites. Sunday night began with a pregame at Welcome to LA: Homage to Charleston at The Unique Space Downtown. Food was served by two of LA’s most talented chefs, Ari Kolender and Zach Swemle, while guests enjoyed an array of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Next it was onward to the pop-ups! Attendees could choose to bar-hop or settle in at one spot for the evening at an enticing variety of bars. Sunday’s Downtown schedule included Bar Clacson at 7:30pm, Broken Shaker at 8:30pm, and Golden Gopher at 9pm. Monday covered Hollywood, with Tabula Rasa, then Spare Room, and closed with Harvard & Stone. To celebrate the bittersweet culmination of Bevcon, we gathered at No Vacancy on Tuesday night for Let’s Get Lit, where a group of the county’s most esteemed beverage writers read and shared excerpts from their latest and upcoming works while guests enjoyed cocktails by award-winning bartenders and hors d'oeuvres. The final pop-ups were then hosted at Normandie Club and Mama Lion in Koreatown.

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For such a successful first year in the City of Angels, we congratulate Angel Postell, Sara Donahue, and the rest of their amazing team. We also want to tip our hats to all of the amazing people behind every corner of the industry that made our first year at Bevcon one to remember. Til’ next year folks! Cheers!

Robiee Ziegler