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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

New at the Fair this Year “Distilled”


San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Competition and Festival – June 27

Spirits competition winners, local participating bars and more!

Del Mar CA— San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Competition and Festival is a brand new event designed to celebrate San Diego’s distinguished craft cocktail culture, and recognize some of San Diego’s best cocktail bars, at this year’s San Diego County Fair, presented by Albertsons/Vons. This fun-filled “tasting event” will take place on Saturday, June 27, from 1 – 5 p.m., in the famed Paddock, Red Star Café, Paddock Tavern and 17 Hands Restaurant & Cantina, and will feature creatively distilled spirits and handcrafted cocktails from the best bartenders and distillers in San Diego and beyond.
On Saturday May 16, 37 medals were awarded to distilleries from around the globe, including some right here in San Diego. The overall Best of Show Winner is under wraps until the awards ceremony at noon on June 27 in the Paddock, where Distilled – San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Competition and Festival will take place.
Judged by industry professionals, the Best of Division winners are as follows:

100% Blue Agave Tequila:

Casamigos Tequila from Casamigos Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico


Purity Vodka from Avandis, Malmö, Sweden


Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers from Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers, Ontario, Canada

Rum (Cane Spirits):

Ballast Point Spirits from San Diego, CA


Maker’s Mark 46 from Maker’s Mark, from Loretto, KY


Ampersand from Old Harbor Distilling, San Diego, CA


R&D Bitters from Old Harbor Distilling, San Diego, CA

Mixers (Non-Alcoholic):

Bloody Mary Mix from Ballast Point Spirits, San Diego, CA

Other Gold Medal winners:

“Horchata Fugu Vodka” from Ballast Point Spirits, San Diego, CA, “Valor West Coast Gin” from Kill Devil Spirit Co., San Diego, CA, “Rum” and “Spiced Rum” from Malahat Spirits, San Diego, CA, and “High West Double Rye” from High West Distillery, Park City, UT.
For the entire list of winners, visit
On June 27 — the day of the Festival — the competition is simple. Every half-hour, one of six of San Diego’s hand-selected, top craft cocktail bars will create a feature cocktail and interact with guests. Mixologists from URBN, Sycamore Den, Barcero, The Lion’s Share, Juniper and Ivy, and Coin Op will meticulously craft their cocktails as Festivalgoers taste and judge each entry.
At 5 p.m., an award ceremony will announce the competition results. First Place will win $400, a plaque for their establishment and best of all, “bragging rights” for the best cocktail in San Diego! Second Place will receive $200; Third Place will receive $100 and the “People’s Choice” will receive a plaque.
Learn even more about distilled spirits and the distilling process at the educational presentations being held in 17 Hands (located in the Paddock) throughout the entire Festival:
2:15 p.m. – Ballast Point Spirits and the Art of Barrel-Aging
Ballast Point Spirits will be discussing how the barrel impacts each of their four barrel-aged spirits, and demonstrating how to make barrel-aged cocktails.
3:15 p.m. – Gin: History and Science, presented by Old Harbor Distilling Co.
Learn about the history of gin, from its humble beginnings in Holland to its revival in craft spirits today, by reviewing the different processes and botanicals used in gin’s production and the science behind it.
4:15 p.m. – Kill Devil Spirit Co.: A Very Ugly Collaboration
Kill Devil Spirit Co. has teamed up with Dark Horse Coffee Roasters to discuss the art of honest distillation, local collaboration and a no-waste policy with their award-winning handmade spirit Ugly California Moonshine.
Musical entertainment will also fill the air and heighten the senses as San Diego-based Americana Soul band, Jesse LaMonaca and The Dime Novels will perform from 1 – 2:30 p.m., and Indie-folk-rock-family-fun band, Branches, from San Francisco will perform fun, folk ditties from 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Purchase tickets now at
General Admission: $39 (includes Fair admission); $25 (without Fair admission); a 10-tab wristband for ¼-oz spirit pours and 1-oz. pours on mixed cocktails.
Upgrade to VIP status and indulge in unlimited libation deliciousness ranging from spirits to cocktails and everything in between, as well as food and access to the exclusive VIP lounge. VIP: $125 (includes Fair admission); $115 (without Fair admission); Enter the festival 30 minutes early to indulge and relax in the VIP Lounge areas where signature cocktails and unlimited food pairings will be served for the first two hours. Spirits served until 5 p.m.
Fair Tripper: $129 for VIP Lounge and its associated amenities; $43 for General Admission (includes Festival admission, Fair admission, and round-trip transportation on the COASTER, SPRINTER and BREEZE). Let NCTD be your designated driver before and after the festival and avoid the traffic and parking fee.
The VIP menu will include the following items:
Tray-Passed Hors d’ Oeuvres

  • Strawberry Gazpacho “Shooter” – with Mango Salsa
  • Wild Mushroom & Brie Tostadita with Truffle Aioli
  • Fried Bacon-wrapped Dates served with an Apple Mustardo
  • Baby Rainbow Beets, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, Caramelized Walnut

Bao Bar – Pillow-soft buns (either steamed or fried) with the following fillings:

  • Oak Roasted Salmon, Vodka Avocado Mousse, American Caviar
  • Brandy Char Su Pork Belly, Cucumber Sunomono
  • Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Bourbon Demi-glace and Frizzled


  • Duck Breast A La Añejo Tequila Orange Sauce, Micro Radish, Cilantro Sprouts
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New at the Fair this Year “Distilled”