We recently had a Nightcap with Director and Founder of the San Diego Spirits Festival, Liz Edwards.
Liz launched the festival nine years ago as a celebration of craft cocktails, culinary arts, and spirits culture. With bartender competitions, tastings, seminars and parties, the festival offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands to be supported and gain recognition among San Diego’s cocktail and culinary community and beyond.
Liz Edwards fell in love with La Jolla 22 years ago while running through the streets of the Windansea area, a move that pushed her natural entrepreneurial spirit to create a different kind of “spirited” event, one that does not exist in any other city in Southern California.
NightOwl: As founder and organizer of the San Diego Spirits Festival, tell us about the festival and how you came to be its director.
Liz: I founded the festival in 2009. I realized that there wasn’t any type of cocktail or spirits festivals in CA. I was already connected in the industry, and 3 months later, I held the first San Diego Spirits Festival – it was a huge success. Nobody believed at the time that I could do it, but here I am in Year Nine.
NightOwl: Tell us about the next event?
Liz: The success of the festival is that I have kept it true to what I created. It’s a cocktail festival celebrating all things cocktail, from the food to the entertainment. This year the plans are to add an after-party and a runway fashion show. Each year there is a celebrity endorsed brand and the celebrities are always in attendance. Last year we had Cheech Marin, Dwight Eubanks, and the Hatfields & McCoys, and in past years we have had Vince Neil, Ron Jeremy, and Dennis Rodman. So, who knows who will be there this year; it’s always a surprise.
NightOwl: Who were some of the craft spirits winners from last years event? And in your opinion, what set them apart from the others?
Liz: For bottle design, it was one of my favorite vodkas: Teaz Vodka, the bottle is amazing. Brown Forman with Woodford Reserve have been attending the festival for the past 7 years and it was the first year that they entered the bottle competition. With the craft spirits, I would give the award to Sweet Potato Spirits. They’re a California farm-to-bottle custom made spirit.
NightOwl: Who are your favorite local chefs and bartenders in San Diego?
Liz: Some of my favorite bartenders are: Antonio Gonzales, Mike Yen, Cervantes Magana, Nate Howell, Heath Wetherbee, and Joan Villanueva. For chefs some of my favorites are: Chef Mather Baker, Chef Aron Schwartz, but my favorite is my son, Executive Chef Peter Edwards – does that count? He is in LA.
NightOwl: What was the most fun night out you ever had and where was it?
Liz: New Years Eve 2016. It was amazing at the University Club with great friends and Moet pouring all night long. I am a champagne girl at heart, but it has to be the good stuff.
NightOwl: It’s time for a cocktail; what time is it and where will we find you?
Liz: Cocktail hour for me is anytime between 5 and 6 and it’s with a Manhattan made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon at my own desk. Or, you can find me at a local happy hour checking out the cocktail menus.
NightOwl: Do you have a favorite quote about spirits?
Liz: One of my new ones right now Is: Cocktails will make you sound smarter, dance better, feel amazing, and look like Shakira, therefore cocktails are a superfood. Cheers!
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