By Derrek J. Hull, Blogger-in-Chief
Officially “selling out” exhibit space for the first time since its launch in 2008, the 2011 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB) has filled to capacity its 6,480-square-foot area at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
To be held during the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show on May 22-23, IWSB has continued to gain momentum since its debut, growing attendee registration by 17 percent in 2010 and adding 54% more exhibit space this year.
“The success of the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event is evidence that restaurateurs recognize the importance of effective bar programs to grow sales, complement dining menus, and ultimately enhance the experience for guests,” said C.W. Craig Reed, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2011 and Director of Food and Beverage, Broadmoor Hotel.
Attendees will also get a glimpse at up-and-coming beverage brands. IWSB will also feature the following exciting attractions:
• Opening sessions by industry-leading experts: Kevin Zraly, author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, and Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, will speak at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 22, and Monday, May 23, respectively. The opening sessions of IWSB will be open to all NRA Show attendees and take place in McCormick Place’s Grand Ballroom.
• Education sessions: IWSB attendees will have access to a number of education sessions led by top industry experts and focused on beverage alcohol trends, glassware, pricing and promotional strategies, and more.
• Restaurant Menu Pairings program: Chefs from top Chicago restaurants will team up with sommeliers, mixologists and brew masters to create food-alcohol pairing stations on the IWSB exhibit floor. Attendees will also be privy to special pairing menus when dining at featured restaurants during the four days of the NRA Show. Links for easy reservations will be available on www.winespiritsbeer.org.
• Star of the Bar mixology competition: Six semi-finalists will compete live in the Star of the Bar competition on Sunday, May 22, 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Three finalists will then compete for the coveted title at the Restaurants Rock industry celebration event that evening. Restaurants Rock will be hosted by head judge of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and noted chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio, who will also be a judge of the competition alongside master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim.
• Demo Lounge: IWSB attendees will learn the techniques that lead to great beverage alcohol products at the IWSB Demo Lounge. Top industry leaders – including Tony Abou-Ganim, founder of The Modern Mixologist, and Ben Glaetzer, of Glaetzer-Heartland Wines in South Australia – will lead hands-on demonstrations and training on topics such as culinary cocktail creation, wine blending and more.
Attendee registration is still available online.