The first time I went to Bartender's Bash was 11 years ago. I was on assignment for the Miami Herald. The two day event was such a rip-roaring, out-of-control hurricane of booze, laughter, women and water, I honestly didn't even remember writing or filing the copy. Until my editor called. "Colagrande, what's this?"
Editors refer to writers by last names and make unreasonable requests like:
Miller, I need this yesterday.
"What is what??"
"This is an incoherent jumble of words without structure. It makes no sense. You wrote it in a maniacal first person drunken rant. This isn't journalism."
"Calm down, Skip," I stalled the editor for time. "I was trying, you know, to go for something different, gonzo journalism, you know, incorporate the feel of the event, maybe put myself into the story, you know, so if the writer sounds drunk, maybe the reader will feel the essence of the event. It's very avant garde, no?"
"Um, no. I can't publish this."
I never wrote another post-coverage piece on Bartender's Bash and who wants to.
A preview maybe, like this.
For this is special. After 17 years, Bartender's Bash is moving from it's Monroe County home at the Tiki Bar in Islamorada to the very core of our downtown corridor at Finnegan's on the Miami River. This should be interesting. But let's back up. Some of you may be asking: what is Bartender's Bash?
Well, it's a pleasant debauchery.
It's like Art Basel for people in-the-hospitality-biz...
It's like Fear & Loathing meets Cocktail...
Technically, Bartender's Bash is a hospitality exposition where liquor vendors from around the world give out samples of their products to bartender's from around the world in a wild open-bar flea market of madness. Then the free samples stop and the event morphs into a variety of entertainment, side-shows and general mayhem at a bar, usually near water. The event generally takes place on a Monday and Tuesday, off days for bartender's, but this year it'll be Sunday and Monday.
Should Miami welcome this bacchanal?
Do we need it? Want it? Why is the event leaving The Keys?
On one hand, leaving Islamorada is remorseful for the small island was condensed with hotels and a sandbar you could swim to. The setting was heavenly, easy to navigate, and made for this event. Now you're basically transplanting a drunken frenzy into our emerging city corridor. It's hard to argue Finnegan's on the River is a better location than the Tiki Bar. Realize. This new venue is in a warehouse district slightly removed from Brickell. There's nowhere else to go. Still, there are pros. You're a cab ride away from the beach, airport, clubs, hotels, and for locals, our homes. It certainly adds a level of convenience for locals and an extra urban nuance for visitors! The event will benefit the economy during off-season and will certainly be fun, albeit different. One can only wait and see.
Bartender's Bash will be this Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. till you puke. The free drinks start early from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m., and then it's cash-and-carry.