RVA Carnival of Cocktails

By Annie Tobey | October 18th, 2023

Like a bar crawl, but under one weatherproof roof

Bartenders at the Carnival of Cocktails

Mixed drinks, liquors – and the enjoyment of both – have changed tremendously since the end of Prohibition. The RVA Carnival of Cocktails offers a chance to drink in the joys of imbibing while learning what’s new.

The afternoon event on Oct. 21 is new to Richmond – and the East Coast. It’s based on the Seattle Carnival of Cocktails, which organizers say is “the largest consumer-focused spirits event in the U.S.”

Amy Faulkner, the creative force behind the event (previously only held in Seattle, WA) couldn’t contain her excitement about bringing the Carnival of Cocktails to Richmond. “This is an immersive affair that brings together the finest spirit companies from around the globe, offering guests the unique opportunity to sample products crafted by both new and familiar brands,” Faulkner explained.

Faulkner has roots in Richmond, making sense of RVA as the East Coast premiere. In fact, she told RVA Mag,

I love Richmond. I moved to Seattle from Richmond. I have plans to move back to Richmond. I visit frequently. I have family here. I consider Richmond home, but most importantly, to see what has happened in the food scene here. Richmond punches above its weight so hard. It really does. I love it. Every meal that I have had here the last few times I’ve been to visit has been like the best meal I’ve ever had. It’s crazy.

She added, “I felt like highlighting all of the amazing stuff that’s happening with the cocktails in Richmond was important. Here more than any other city.”

Faulkner’s business, Gilly Wagon, is named after a circus vehicle, making sense of the name, “Carnival” of Cocktails. (Not coincidentally, entertainment will include Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus, Richmond’s own professional aerial and circus arts company.) Faulkner is also active in the spirits industry as co-host of the Dead Men of Whiskey podcast, producer of Seattle Cocktail Week, and more, making sense of the spirits focus.

Like a bar crawl, but under one weatherproof roof

An afternoon of experiences will fill your mind and satisfy your taste buds. Imagine pop-up bars, tastings, demonstrations, food trucks, and educational sessions.

Envision more than 100 liquor brands, offering spirits tastings (1/4 ounce neat) and cocktail samples (3 ounce servings) made with their spirits – brands like Citadelle Gin, Plantation Rum, Shanky’s Whip, Plantation Rum, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao, Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli liqueurs, and Ferrand Cognac. You’ll find whiskies from the U.S., Ireland, and Japan. You can sample the deliciousness of Shanky’s Whip, Irish whiskey with cream, vanilla, and caramel blended into a black liqueur.

As a garnish, brands will share cocktail knowledge and present demonstrations, so you’ll reap the rewards of the RVA Carnival of Cocktails for years to come.

Local bartenders will show off their expertise at pop-up bars, including The Verdant Lady, The Emerald Lounge, Soul Taco, and The Jasper.

Two classes promise to expand your knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of two distinctive spirits.

Milagro presents Tequila 101, a look at the history and process of making Milagro Tequila, with a sample to round out the lesson.
Lisa Laird Dunn, the First Lady of Applejack, is joined by a Norfolk-based spirits specialist to explore the story of one of America’s original cocktail spirits – and share ideas for using it in cocktails.

Guests can also purchase from four food trucks (a good idea, given the alcohol!) and enjoy entertainment from DJ J Dream and Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus.

Proceeds benefit Healthy Behind the Bar, which offers microgrants to people in the hospitality industry for emergency health, mental health, or dental health care.

“Richmond deserves a fresh event to shake things up,” Faulkner said. “The city’s vibrant spirit and appreciation for adventure align with the experience we’re bringing to Main Street Station. The Carnival of Cocktails will add a new dimension of amusement to the city’s social calendar.”

Tickets include admission, 12 tasting tokens, education sessions, and entertainment.

RVA Carnival of Cocktails  
Oct. 21, noon to 7 p.m.
Main Street Station, Richmond

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