With the holiday season long gone, you may be hoping that everyone soon forgets how you behaved at your office holiday party. But, there's still one group of people that might not have partied as much as you last month: Denver bartenders. In keeping with the industry tradition of putting off celebrations to accommodate special events for customers, beverage industry employees are finally ready to cut loose. The Colorado Bartenders' Guild is hosting its annual Holiday Hangover on Monday at Session Kitchen, from 7 to 10 p.m. The benefit and fundraiser is geared toward bartenders, with the intent of giving them a place to shake off all that holiday stress, but the party is also open to the public. Admission includes two complementary drink tickets and proceeds go toward a worthy cause.
The event is free for guild members and $12 (available on the COBG website or at the door) for non-members. Proceeds from the event will benefit Robbie Cunningham, a distiller at Golden Moon Distillery, who was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Guests can help defray his medical costs by purchasing tickets at the door and participating in a unique raffle. Several donated items will be on display on the main floor of the restaurant; to win one, buy tickets and drop them in the jar next to the item. If you really want to win, drop a few more. Prizes include a trip for two to Mexico, concert tickets, a bicycle, tickets to shows at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, VIP tours of local distilleries, and many more. Winners will be announced at the event.
"This event is special," Smith says, "in part, because we've never really done a benefit of this scope."
In its third year, the Holiday Hangover has grown to be an extravaganza of fun and games including cocktails, food, tasting tables, a photo booth, a fund-raising raffle, and the annual Colorado Bartenders' Guild awards ceremony. Commemorative t-shirts will be printed on-site and will be available for purchase.
"As bartenders, we're usually working those office parties," says Brian Smith, event coordinator for the Colorado Bartenders' Guild. "Once everything settles down after the new year, we get a little bit of a lull where we can all get together and have our own celebration.
"It's all bout fun and camaraderie," Smith adds. "We just want to get everybody together and have a good time."
On Session Kitchen's main floor, more than 15 tasting tables will offer samples of beer and booze, allowing guests to chat with brand representatives to learn more about the products. Featured brands include: Great Divide Brewing Co., Avery Brewing Co., Laws Whiskey House, Stranahan's Colorado Distillery, Golden Moon Distillery, Jim Beam, and many more.
A VIP area upstairs provides a few more freebies for current members of the Guild: a buffet, a Cards Against Humanity tournament, a Wii bowling contest, a photo booth, and access to Session's upstairs bar with free punches, beer and cocktails.
An awards ceremony will honor bartenders who have been nominated in categories such as: Most Meticulous Cocktail Maker, Best Tattoos, Biggest Beer Nerd, Best Facial Hair and the coveted "Bartenders' Bartender" award.
The Holiday Hangover is also a membership drive for the Colorado Bartenders' Guild. Non-members can meet with the Guild's membership director and sign up on the spot. A one-year membership is $100 and offers opportunities for education about beer, wine and spirits, networking, information about cocktail competitions, and volunteering opportunities.
"It's worth $100, not just for the economic or learning opportunities," Smith explains. "Membership in the Guild shows everyone that you're serious about being a professional."
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The Colorado Bartenders' Guild is a chapter of the United States Bartenders' Guild, and is a non-profit organization made up of local hospitality industry professionals and enthusiasts passionate about spirits, cocktails, wine, beer and quality service. For more information, visit cobartendersguild.org.