State of the Art fundraiser showcases local craft cocktail scene



The Museum of the American Cocktail's (MOTAC) "State of the Art" event is tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Windsor Court Hotel. Besides being a fundraiser for the museum, it provides a snapshot of the local cocktail scene and highlights recent developments.

At the 2012 State of the Art, Scot Mattox debuted his El Guapo tonic syrup. In 2013, relative newcomer Kent Westmoreland wowed veteran bartenders with his Argentina cocktail (a gin martini with citrus notes).

Now, Mattox’s El Guapo line (including the tonic syrup and locally-sourced bitters) is in local bars and shops as well as in international markets. The Windsor Court Hotel recently named Westmoreland as its head mixologist.

State of the Art attracts some of the city’s best-known bartenders and introduces emerging talent. (There's a list of participating bartenders here.)

“It’s a passing of the baton to a new generation,” says MOTAC’s assistant managing director, Laura McMillian, who organizes State of the Art with husband and bartender Chris McMillian of Kingfish.

Tonight’s State of the Art features a new element: attendees can vote for their favorite specialty cocktail from several dozen bartenders.

Admission ($50 at the door; $38 for SOFAB/MOTAC members) includes all drinks, as well as light bites provided by the Windsor Court. Proceeds support the Museum of the American Cocktail, which will land a permanent home when the Southern Food & Beverage Museum opens in its new location (scheduled for Sept. 29).

Attendance at State of the Art has doubled since 2011, and Laura McMillian says that adding a cocktail contest should increase turnout by way of bartenders who encourage friends and family to come and cheer them on.

While not affiliated with Tales of the Cocktail  which opens this week, State of the Art has increasingly attracted visiting bartenders and enthusiasts who are in New Orleans for the global cocktail conference, including bartenders from New York City, Portland, Oregon, and London, as well as industry luminaries such as Charlotte Voisey and Dale DeGroff, MOTAC co-founder and president.

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