Wine is in the air in the Napa Valley. Literally, at this time of year you can smell the scent of fermenting grapes in the autumn air. It’s one of my favorite things about this place, especially at this time of year, when all senses are engaged by the art of wine making.
While wine is plentiful in this region, cocktails are harder to come by. Due to tight licensing laws, only a few bars in downtown Napa can serve a martini. And so, when young media/cocktail luminary Alan Kropf started planning the third-annual red carpet party and cocktail competition for the his publication, Mutineer Magazine, I knew it would be one hell of a party. One week ago, 250 stylish guests followed the spotlights to the Napa Valley Opera House, which had been transformed into a hip nightclub for the night. I’m the Marketing Director for the Opera House, so I’ve seen it transformed for everything from weddings to masquerade balls, but this was by far the hottest vibe that venue has experienced since it opened 131 years ago.
What could make it better? Ginger-inspired cocktails inspired by The King’s Ginger. This makes me very happy. If there’s a cocktail infused with ginger on a menu, I’ll take it. At this party, eight of the best bartenders in
Napa competed for the coveted winning concoction. The music bumped, friends swayed and circled, and Napa’s cocktail revolution officially kicked into full swing.
It was an event worthy of hijacking my blog for a few paragraphs. Fitzgerald had slightly different motives in mind for Gatsby’s lavish parties, and Hemingway may have preferred an absinthe competition, but this was an event that surely would have pleased the Jazz Age writers and revelers.
Wine, scotch, absinthe, beer, champagne… these libations are central to so many works of literature. Where would The Great Gatsby be without the champagne-doused soirees?Henimgway without his beer-fueled tirades? Even Jane Austen wrote about drinking claret (a Bordeaux wine). Of course, it doesn’t always paint a pretty picture. Steinbeck vividly captured the horrific effects of alcoholism in several books, including The Grapes of Wrath, the Brontes suffered the ill effects of their brother’s constant over indulgence and it’s hard not to shun off alcohol all together after delving into any of Eugene O’Neill’s plays.
However, there’s no arguing the power of liquid spirits to spur creativity and enhance a celebration. Cheers to the Mutineers, who encourage responsible imbibing and are leading the way to a revolution in the culture of adult beverages. Let’s keep wine and cocktails co-existing peacefully in the Napa Valley.
In Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.
– A Moveable Feast, Hemingway