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Midtown Cocktail Week stirs up drinks starting Monday

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Sacramentans in the mood for specially made cocktails need to look no further than Midtown this week.

The annual Midtown Cocktail Week kicks off on Monday with seven nights filled to the brim with cocktail culture.

Co-founder Joe Anthony Savala began the event in 2008 with Erick Castro after attending San Francisco’s Cocktail Week.

“We really love the whole Midtown vibe and how it’s growing, so [we thought,] let’s put something together here,” Savala said.

After some planning in conjunction with local restaurants and bars in Midtown and some help from San Francisco’s best bars, MCW was born. In 2009, the Midtown Business Association joined in.

MCW is more than just enjoying beverages, Savala said. It’s more about the mixology and cocktail culture.

“What we’re trying to do is educate a lot of the people here, people that love the cocktail culture and are even in the industry,” he said. “We try to bring a lot of the great minds, work together and brainstorm to make each other better.”

Savala, current beverage manager at Zócalo, described a mixologist as someone much like a chef who knows ingredients well and can mix them to create something great.

The secret to a great cocktail is balance, he said.

“A lot of times with young bartenders, they think they need more ingredients to make a great cocktail, he said. “Sometimes it’s really the simplest, purist form of a cocktail that makes it great.”

This year’s MCW will host its yearly bartender mixology competition Tuesday at Lounge on 20. Eight competitors are challenged to use Royal Combier liqueur in their creations and will be judged on appearance, taste and creativity.

Zócalo will feature drinks on Thursday made from distilled mezcal. Savala said some participating locations, such as Shady Lady, will feature local ingredients — including spirits.

“Just like people are eating a lot better now with more local ingredients, people are drinking better now, too,” he said. “It’s really bringing cocktails that have a lot of integrity.”

MCW is promoting responsible drinking and alternative transportation. Proceeds to MCW will benefit drunk driving educators and law enforcement agencies in Sacramento.

“This brings a lot of culture and awareness to Sacramento,” Savala said. “People aren’t really trying to get drunk anymore, they’re trying to enjoy a great cocktail. It’s maturing Sacramento into becoming great drinkers — people who are enjoying a great cocktail, culture, education and awareness.”

For a sneak peek at Savala’s “Oaxacan Old Fashioned” and “Anejo Sour” drink recipes, click here.

For more information and full list of events for MCW, visit midtowncocktailweek.org.

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