Cocktails at ClivesThe 2011 Art of the Cocktail is already upon us and like many people in the city, I am in the spirit to taste classic cocktails and experiment in molecular mixology! What is the Art of the Cocktail? It is a weekend festival running from October 1 to 3, 2011 that celebrates all aspects surrounding … you guessed it, cocktails! In recent years, boutique and microbreweries have dominated the alcohol-based beverage scene around the city. The interest in more customized and character drinks is exploding and creators and fans of libations are not going to be left behind. The Art of the Cocktail is a three day event that involves education seminars, competitions and, most importantly, tasting! Sip Around has been running over the course of the last few weeks and leads right up to the event. Sip Around has been building anticipation of the Art of the Cocktail by encouraging people to try a variety restaurants, lounges and pubs that might not have been attended previously. In doing so, the patrons will get the chance to challenge their taste buds with exotic new food and drink pairings created and presented by some of the most talented chefs and mixologists in Victoria. One such pairing prepared by Lure Restaurant and Lounge is an appetizer of scallops and apples with apple-celery root puree, apple confit, basil and a cider reduction and complimented by a Vrai Pomme cocktail. This is a delicious concoction of Calvados Apple Brandy, Sea Cider Farm's Pomona Dessert Cider, Green Chartreuse and Apple-Rosehip Bitters. My mouth is watering writing about it!  This is just a warm up to the main event though, the big draw of the Art of the Cocktail is The Grand Tasting. This is a two and a half hour event on Saturday night that allows guests to sample approximately 50 different flavours born from the world of spirits. Victoria is a great host in this regard because several outstanding local artisan distillers will be on hand, intermingled with some of the world’s largest brands and companies. While sampling and tasting is going on, patrons will have the opportunity to learn intimate cocktail secrets from some of the most respected industry representatives from around the world. Favourite drinks, recipes and intriguing ingredient ideas will be prevalent throughout the tasting. It would not be responsible of me to mention attending an event that consists mainly of consuming alcohol (even in sample sizes) and not recommend safe transport and lodgings. Whether coming by ferry or already on the island, the Art of the Cocktail team have got you covered for the event. The Art of the Cocktail is only a week away and I have just scratched the surface of what is going on directly related to the event. It is definitely a whole weekend of hi-jinks awaiting the culturally adventurous. With fall weather setting in, what better way to keep warm and entertained than by taking in the new spirits, ingredients and lessons and giving them a try yourself? Come check out the Art of the Cocktail from October 1 to 3 and who knows, maybe it will be you winning The Times Colonist Home Bartenders Competition in 2012!