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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WhiskyFest San Francisco: Day Three

Busy day. We got up and went out for breakfast: the Elephant and Castle, God help me. It was only a few blocks from the hotel, and had a regular breakfast-type menu, but...I just felt wrong at a chain joint, like I let down the side. We'll do better today, but we were a bit rushed yesterday.

Back from there, and we got to work in the ballroom, starting set-up. We unloaded magazines and set them out, unloaded cases of programs (the WhiskyFest programs are a class act: spiral-bound, heavy paper, four-color print) and nosing glasses, and set up signs. Then we began almost an hour of shifting tables to exactly where we wanted them: spacing, angles, numbers, all that jazz. We do six nosing glasses for each vendor, etched with their logo, so we took those out and set them up on the vendor's tables, about 66 tables in all. While we were doing that, other staffers were setting up row upon row of event nosing glasses at the registration tables. After three hours of that, we went to lunch in the hotel restaurant. (chicken and prosciutto panini, cup of clam chowder, goat cheese and arugula salad, quite nice, and the iced tea was fresh)

Cathy and I walked across to the Ferry Building to grab some souvenirs at the Market. We got some shirts, some chocolate, I got a Cowgirl Creamery triple creme puck (which was quite flippin' nice once we got it back to the room and let it warm up). We also got dessert: bombolone, kind of like really nice filled donuts. Back to the room, shower and dress for the event. We went down to the ballroom at 3:30.

Things went very smoothly. Actually, the whole event went pretty darned smoothly. The exhibitors fell into the routine, putting out bottles, setting up their displays, greeting each other. We had our seminars, which are my responsibility to see that everything is running smoothly, and they did. It was a bit tougher this time, because only one of the seminar rooms was on the same floor as the main event; the others were up a level, and we had to ask attendees to go up a flight of escalators. By the time the night was over, I told Cathy I should have gotten frequent flyer miles for that escalator trip. We did have some great seminars: a scotch and chocolate tasting with Simon Brooking of Laphroaig and John Scharffenberger of Scharffen Berger Chocolate; a tasting of export-only whiskeys from Heaven Hill, and a rum tasting with Appleton Rum.

The response was tremendous. Guests were coming up to staffers and thanking us for a great event; exhibitors were warmly thanking us for "coming to San Francisco." It was quite gratifying. People were well-behaved, very little drunkenness, and responsible behavior: "I think I've had enough, sir. Where can I get a cab?" We're looking forward to the next year here.

I took some leftover bottles up to a Diageo party on the 9th floor -- friends of ours -- and went back to the room, where I put on some more comfortable clothes and shoes. We went down to John and Amy's room, with everyone else -- most of the women in pajamas, the guys out on the balcony -- and we toasted a successful event. And pretty much crashed; we were exhausted.


GenX at 40 said...

That sounds grand, Lew. Where is an east coast sort of event like this held that someone look south at Watertown NY might hit one day.


Lew Bryson said...

Why, that would be WhiskyFest New York, celebrating its 10th anniversary, and happening next week! Er, but it's sold out. Maybe next year? Get the information at the Malt Advocate site.

Alan said...

Gee, that looks great. Have I ever told you that my sort of great-uncle was a semi-illicit whisky broker in Scotland who knew where all farmers' moonshine casked in barns was hidden - which provided best blends with the particular notes they needed in this year and that? A grand fellow and very sad that he did not live to my attaining of the age of majority.