The Good & The Bad From The 2013 Speakeasy Cocktail Festival

Over the weekend, I again had the opportunity to check out Atlanta’s Speakeasy Cocktail Festival. The annual cocktail festival, founded by Gary Cobb, first kicked off last year, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the event would fare in its second year. Since there was a fair amount of highs and lows this year, I figured I’d share ‘em with you guys in this blog post. Check ‘em out below.


Wayyy Better Venue – The theme of the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival is of course centered around 1920′s speakeasies and that theme was a lot more visible this year at Opera Nightclub than it was at last year’s ginormous Georgia World Congress Center exhibit hall. Opera may be a mega-club, but it also makes for a pretty nice event venue and was a near perfect choice for the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival.

More Cocktails – Although it’s called the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival, it definitely seemed there was a lack of cocktails last year. Instead, brands were pouring liquor straight and there was also a handful of beer options (and Atlanta’s got plenty of beer festivals). This year, I’m pleased to say that there were a lot more cocktail samples available. Favorite cocktail from the festival? Jim Beam’s “Spiked Apple Cider.” Man, you guys need to get into that! Simple, but friggin’ delicious.

Lack Of Excess – Last year, there was a lot going that really should not have been going on at the festival. There was a car show that was way more “random-old-car-parked-in-the-middle-of-an-exhibit-hall” than it was car show. And the gambling area was entirely too big, which made it look vacant most of the time. They seemed to do away with a lot of the extra stuff this year and it was a wise choice.


FOOD!!!alskjf;ljk33 – This was a similar issue last year, and as you can see from my keyboard rage, it’s an issue that’s really a major one in my opinion. You can’t possibly hold a cocktail festival and have people sampling cocktails and liquor straight, and not offer food for purchase or just make it complimentary (I prefer the latter option). I believe there was food in the VIP area, and last year I do remember buying a slice of lackluster pizza from Papa Johns, but there were hardly any options (if any) for regular ticket holders this year.

Deja Vu – So, I definitely experienced deja vu a handful of times at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival. From the hostess (who was the same as last year) who again encouraged attendees to yell, “make it or shake it,” to the cocktail competition winner who happened to also be last year’s winner. I believe the runner-up in the competition was also the same as last years. Nothing wrong with that, but they could have recruited a lot more new competition.

Fully Informed Volunteers – I have to say that the majority of the volunteers and brand reps, especially the CAMUS Cognac dude, were very familiar with the products they were representing. Not everyone was on point though. At one point in the evening, one of the cocktail waitresses offered me a sample of a Patron cocktail and when I asked her what was in it she quickly said something along the lines of, “Just take it. You’ll like it.” Ironically, I did like it, but I unfortunately have no idea what was in it. Womp womp.

All in all, I do think the festival is a good addition to the city, but there are still a handful of things that need to be worked on. Be sure to take a look at the pics I snapped at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival, below.

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