Aged to perfection. Steeped in history. Best enjoyed with friends.
All of the above describe great booze. But this year, they apply equally to Midtown Cocktail Week, Sacramentos annual celebration of all things shaken, stirred, mixed, muddled and sipped from a coupe glass.
Or, if you prefer, seasoned with lemon smoke from a hand-rolled cigarette stuffed with wood shavings from a Kentucky bourbon barrel. Or mixed with salt and calcium to create a blob resembling a zombies eyeball.
Sacramento-area bartenders are an inventive bunch, and they take advantage of the week to showcase their mixological prowess.
We make really unique, one-of-a-kind drinks, said Ryan Seng, a bartender at The Grange on J Street, who won a cocktail competition last year for his smoke-and-alcohol concoction.
Midtown Cocktail Week turns 6 this year and organizers predict the 2013 festival will be well attended. They expect to see some traffic from the Bay Area, where Junes San Francisco Cocktail Week was canceled because of scheduling conflicts and problems with the states department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Last year, the Midtown Business Association, which helps organize the Sacramento event, saw about 1,600 people attend the seven-day celebration. This year, it anticipates up to 2,000 people.
Running Wednesday through Aug. 25, Midtown Cocktail Week will be punctuated by a variety of themed parties at bars throughout the midtown area. Events include a lesson on punch and specialty gin from renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich (who has written for Esquire and Imbibe magazines) and a make-the-best-shot competition for rookie bartenders.
Sacramento has been raising its mixed-drink profile as of late. Both the San Francisco Chronicle and Imbibe magazine recently acknowledged the citys thriving cocktail scene, with Imbibe editors noting the city had been flying under the national radar.
Local bartenders such as Brett Heyer hope to change that under-the-radar perception. Heyer, who has been behind the bar at The Grange for almost a year, is experimenting with elements of molecular gastronomy for his still-unnamed drink, which he hopes will resemble a zombie eyeball. He said he plans to enter it in Wednesdays rookie shot competition at The Golden Bear, 2326 K St., (916) 441-2242.
Heyer plans to create a perfect sphere using a combination of organic powders that will surround the alcohol (hes still deciding which booze to use) in a thin, flavorless membrane. After adding some strawberry purée that resembles fake blood, Heyer, a longtime horror movie fan, will present his concoction to adventurous tipplers.
Midtown Cocktail Week offers a variety of events for those 21 and over, whether theyre interested in complicated cocktails, sensational shots or average aperitifs.
The following list highlights some options:
Call The Bee's Benjamin Mullin, (916) 321-1034.