Cocktail festival: a thirst in town

Jaz Stoddart shows how to make Pequeno’s smoke bubble peach cosmo. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Jaz Stoddart shows how to make Pequeno’s smoke bubble peach cosmo. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Having travelled the country mixing cocktails at festivals and events, a Dunedin company has decided it is time they should be able to do so in their home town.

Alchemist Mixology’s Jaz Stoddart says she feels like Dunedin cocktail enthusiasts have been missing out on their passion, with little in the way of beverage-related celebrations or festivals on offer apart from the city’s Beerfest.

Yet Stoddart has seen how popular cocktail festivals and events are in other towns and cities which they attended with their portable cocktail bar.

"For those people in their late 20s, the young professionals, there is nothing much happening in Dunedin."

In the past three years that Alchemist has been attending events, they have found the demand for cocktails has significantly grown; there is a real interest in alternatives to beer and wine.

At her and husband Alex’s bar Pequeno, in Dunedin, up to 85% of alcoholic drinks sold are cocktails.

Stoddart says there is no reason not to have a festival in Dunedin, given the great distilleries the region has.

So she has organised Spirit of Mixology, a cocktail festival being held at Erricks on June 8 and featuring local vendors such as No 8 distillery (Dunedin), Cardrona Distillery (Wanaka), Alchemist mixology (Dunedin) and Quick Brown Fox/Harpoon Cold Brew (Dunedin).

"We really have tried to keep the festival as local to Dunedin as possible to best highlight what Otago has to offer."

Stoddart has challenged each vendor to come up with some creative twists for their cocktail offerings to pique people’s interest.

"You can be creative, think outside the box — one of our highest selling drinks has candyfloss on it, another has a wee meringue on top."

Two sessions will be held, one in the afternoon and another in the evening, and at each Pequeno’s head bartender, Jesse Bishop, will run a masterclass teaching participants how to make a QBF/Harpoon Espresso Martini and Pequeno’s smoke bubble peach cosmo.

No 8 Distillery will also give a talk about the art and science behind designing spirits specifically with cocktails in mind, which will range from selecting and foraging botanicals to fine-tuning flavour profiles.

She hopes, if the festival is successful, to be able to grow the event in the future.

There would also be food vendors and live entertainment from Niche, a local RnB-jazz band.