Now that we’re finally settling into the new year, it’s time to start getting excited for all the cocktail conferences, bartending competitions, beer festivals, and other great booze events that are coming up in 2016! We’ve put together a list of every major cocktail competition and festival going on through March, which ought to be enough to whet your appetite for the year to come.

We’ll be keeping you updated with all the latest craft cocktail-, craft spirit-, and craft beer-related events every few months, so be sure to stick around and make sure you don’t miss out. We hope we’ll see you around at some of these in person!

San Antonio Cocktail Conference

San Antonio – January 14-17, 2016

san antonio cocktail conference

Over the last five years, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference has grown into one of the most well-respected craft cocktail celebrations in the country. Hosted at bars, restaurants, and theaters throughout the city, this is a great way to get explore San Antonio while enjoying some absolutely fantastic drinks, and maybe even learning a thing or two.

This is also the first Cocktail Conference since the passing of legendary bar owner Sasha Petraske, who helped to establish the event in 2012. The conference will continue to raise money for children’s charities in his honor.

For more info on venues, tickets, and timing, check out the detailed event schedule.

SF Beer Week

San Francisco – January 22-31, 2016

san francisco beer week

One of our personal favorites, thanks in no small part to the fact that it’s held right in our backyard, SF Beer Week is just around the corner. Unlike many other craft beer festivals, this one is spread throughout the city, and with the exception of the opening gala it takes the form of special tappings, brewery takeovers, and parties at some of the best bars in San Francisco.

It can be a little overwhelming for newbies, so make sure to look over the official schedule and plan your fun accordingly.

Golden State of Cocktails

Los Angeles – January 24-26, 2016

golden state of cocktails

Golden State of Cocktails, a self-styled celebration of California’s diverse cocktail culture, has actually been touring the state since October of 2015 with preview events in San Francisco and San Diego. But now the main event is upon us!

Starting on January 24, Golden State of Cocktails will kick off in LA with a series of seminars, tastings, panels, and more—and having visited the San Francisco preview event ourselves, we can tell you that it’s definitely worth checking out.

Be sure to take a look at the event schedule so you don’t miss out on anything good.

Diageo World Class Cocktail Competition

diageo world class

Diageo World Class is regarded by many as the premiere bartending competition on the planet. While the regional competitions don’t start until April, this year they’re going on tour a little early with a series of events all over the US. We’ll have the full bartending competition details in the next few months, but these should hold you over in the meantime.

Diageo World Class Denver – January 11, 2016

Diageo World Class San Francisco – January 13, 2016

Diageo World Class Boston – January 19, 2016

Diageo World Class Las Vegas – January 27, 2016

Diageo World Class Austin – February 1, 2016

Diageo World Class Dallas – February 3, 2016

Diageo World Class Orlando – February 9, 2016

Speed Rack Cocktail Competition

speed rack cocktail competition

Founded in 2011 by Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, Speed Rack is a fantastic cocktail competition that aims to promote the best female mixologists in the country. The annual event also serves as a fundraiser for breast cancer research, education, and prevention, so you’ll be helping to support a great cause as well.

Culminating in the National Finals in May, Speed Rack is a seriously fun competition with events all over the country. So get out there and cheer on your favorite local bartenders!

Speed Rack San Antonio – January 12, 2016

Speed Rack Seattle – January 31, 2016

Speed Rack San Francisco – February 21, 2016

Speed Rack Las Vegas – March 6, 2016

Speed Rack Nashville – March 20, 2016

Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year


heaven hill bartender of the year

The Heaven Hill Brands Bartender of the Year cocktail competition is open to bartenders from all over the country, but focuses on using ingredients from the Heaven Hill portfolio: Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, Rittenhouse Rye, and PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur.

The semifinals will be taking place in February and March, but the details haven’t been announced yet, so keep an eye on their site for any announcements.

Philly Craft Beer Festival

Philadelphia – March 5, 2016

philly craft beer festival

Unlike SF Beer Week, the Philly Craft Beer Festival is a one-day affair that celebrates everything great about Philadelphia’s exploding craft beer scene. The event takes place at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, right on the Delaware River, so make sure you don’t knock back too many strong IPAs or you’re liable to fall in.

To get tickets, check out the official Philly Craft Beer Festival website.

Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show

Las Vegas – March 7-9, 2016

nightclub and bar convention

This annual cocktail convention is a little more directed at industry professionals, but it’s also home to the Shake It Up! bartending competition, hosted by the United States Bartenders Guild. It’s a fun event whether you’re a professional or just an enthusiast—and who doesn’t love an excuse to go to Vegas?

We’re sure we’ve managed to leave out some excellent cocktail competitions, beer festivals, and spirit tasting events, so if you don’t see your favorite on here please give us a shout in the comments!

Photo: A Speed Rack competitor pours her drinks, via

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