Lovers of fine wine, boutique beer and superior spirits, listen up! (and head to the bottom of the page for your chance to win!)
The Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival has arrived in town, bringing the very best in the drink biz together for two days of sipping, seminars and demonstrations at the Royal Exhibition Building.
Aimed at trade professionals and thirsty punters alike, you're all invited to sip your way through some of the world's finest wines, beers and spirits on Sunday 9th February, while Monday is reserved for those dealing in the beverage biz (you lucky folk).
So what will you be sipping at Top Shelf this Sunday? There'll be hundreds of different products on offer, with everything from Hungary's famous Tokaji dessert wines to the new Yarra Valley's Four Pillars Gin available for your sampling (and purchasing!) pleasure. Just remember that it's a case of first come, first sip – so make sure you get there early to avoid disappointment.
Not only will you get to taste the crème de la crème of alcoholic beverages, you'll have the chance to meet the brewers, distillers, winemakers and mixologists behind the glorious tipples. International Bartender of the Year Jack McGarry, from New York's infamous Dead Rabbit, will be dispensing wisdom and cocktails in equal measure, and three of the world's top master whisky distillers – Buffalo Trace Bourbon's Harlen Wheately, Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan and Burn Stewart's Ian MacMillan – will also be there talking all things whisky and wonderful.
Suds, hops and malt more your thing? Or perhaps you enjoy the bliss only an ice cold cider can bring? There'll be a range of craft and premium beers, as well as ciders you can sip, sample and slurp your way through. There'll also be a range of beer talks, covering everything from the key to creating your own knockout brew to the intricate art of beer tasting. Keep an eye out for 'Beer Diva' Kirrily Waldhorn who'll be discussing the future of craft brews.
We'll also be checking out Fever-Tree's premium range of natural mixers, presented at their very own bar on Southtrade Lane, alongside the likes of another TUL fave, Patrón Tequila. Designed to complement and enhance premium spirits, the Fever Tree range includes premium Indian Tonic Water, Ginger Beer, Lemonade, Ginger Ale, Mediterranean Tonic and Soda Water. Did someone say G&T?
In need of something to soak up all the booze? Top Shelf has your tastebuds covered too: Chingón will be serving tacos from their copper caravan and Grill Pro BBQ masters will be dishing out platefuls of slow-cooked meats. There'll also be a range of other gourmet food stands serving up their artisanal products.
As if that's not good enough, there are a number of Top Shelf events taking place outside of the show, ranging from intimate tastings to large bashes. You can select, name and sip away on a DIY cocktail at Terra Rossa, partake in a FREE tasting of World Restaurant's tequila range, and even place a bid at Black Pearl's E=MC Hammer Time Charity Auction. Many of the events are either free or offer a discounted rate for festival attendees. Score!
The final cherry on top of the cocktail that is the Top Shelf festival? The Top Shelf Passport. The precious (free) booklet will take you on a bar safari through Melbourne, getting you discounts at some of the city's finest watering holes including 1806, Black Pearl and Lily Blacks.
Whether you're professional, passionate or just plain parched, head to Top Shelf for some serious liquid luxury.
Top Shelf Boutique Drinks Festival | Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson Street in Carlton
General Public | 9th February | 11:00am – 6:00pm?
Traders | 10th February | 11:00am – 5:00pm
$25 in advance | $30 on the door (Under 18s free, must be supervised by a responsible guardian)
For more information, click here | To book, click here
Image Credit: The Urban List