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An Evening Behind Bars
Tim Teichgraeber

photos by the author

The end of Prohibition was the theme as William Grant & Sons hosted San Francisco trade guests on Alcatraz Island last November 8. Now a national park, Alcatraz is famous for having held some famous troublemakers of the Prohibition era. Partygoers were ferried out to the former prison, were led up the hill by park rangers, and treated to an audio tour of the prison before the party.

   
 Nicholas Pollacchi (left), Balvenie East Coast Brand Ambassador) and Jacob Briars.


And a fine party it was. Some 350 bartenders, retailers, restaurateurs and writers were in attendance, many of them decked out in Prohibition-era duds.

Brand ambassadors from each of the William Grant brands, including Glenfiddich, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Hendrick’s Gin, Milagro Tequila, Sailor Jerry Rum and Stolichnaya Vodka, mixed original—and spectacularly delicious—concoctions as guests noshed on small bites of very post-Prohibition eats and circled the candle-lit hoosegow bar.

 
Peter Vestinos mixes the "Rags to Riches Punch" with Hendrick's Gin.
 

William Grant Portfolio Ambassador Charlotte Voisey said of the event, “At William Grant, we’re always trying to do something different. We wanted to show off our collection and brand ambassadors. We really try to add a twist and make it memorable.”

She added that the party was also, in a way, a tribute to a city that has been a champion in the modern cocktail movement. “Just because they already do cocktails well doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them attention,” said Voisey.



   
Patrick Johnson and David Ruiz working the Stolichnaya Vodka table.

As the ferries returned partygoers to San Francisco, it was clear that the folly of Prohibition—and the belief that life would somehow be better without cocktails—has surely now been put soundly to rest.