Cocktail enthusiasts ready their palates

Art of the Cocktail launches Oct. 1

Janice Mansfield at her bar with a cocktail ready to go. She’ll participate in the home bartenders challenge

Janice Mansfield at her bar with a cocktail ready to go. She’ll participate in the home bartenders challenge

Sage, an herb typically relegated to the Thanksgiving dinner table, finds new appreciation at this weekend’s Art of the Cocktail.

“I decided to go with sage because it’s an under-appreciated herb,” said Janice Mansfield, who is participating in the home bartenders’ challenge. The competition joins the professional bartenders challenge for the first time this year.

“It is called Healthy, Wealthy and Wise,” Mansfield said. In the old herbalist manuals, sage is associated with wisdom. A gin made with green tea brings longevity and ginger brings health, as well as “a nice bright note,” she added. “It’s a therapeutic cocktail.”

Along with five other cocktail enthusiasts (excluding professional bartenders), she’ll mix her own concoction for the judges on the Saturday of the three-day event, running Oct. 1 to 3 at various locations.

The Art of the Cocktail include an evening of tasting and a series of workshops.

“We’ve got the best minds in the cocktail world that are coming here to share their knowledge,” said Scott Amos, communications co-ordinator.

New this year is a wine-cocktail and cured-meats pairing, as well as a type of cocktail pub crawl where participants who hit up at least five of the participating cocktail lounges gain entry to a midnight buffet.

The whole event is a fundraiser for the Victoria Film Festival. Last year’s event raised $11,000 for the festival.

As well as participating in the home bartender challenge, Mansfield is also hosting a workshop on how to set up a home bar.

Mansfield got into classic cocktails before the culture started catching on in Victoria.

“It was hard to find a good drink,” she recalled.

Her house bears testament to her passion. A large home bar sprawls across her living room and kitchen.

These days, she said, there is a growing list of bars offering a creative list of cocktails, a step above the slushy drinks that sometimes pass for them.

Buy tickets or find out more at www.artofthecocktail.ca.