PDX’ing with Lindsey Johnson

by ShakeStir Staff

We recently had the opportunity to chat with our good friend Lindsey Johnson who is the co-founder of Portland Cocktail Week. In case you aren't aware, Portland Cocktail Week, or PDXCW as it is lovingly referred to, was created by the industry for the industry as a place to gather and learn together. Read what she has to say about PDXCW and why every bartender should be there.

SS: Tell us a bit about yourself.

LJ: I’m Lindsey Johnson the co-founder of Lush Life Productions, Portland Cocktail Week and Camp Runamok. My job is to help proliferate the craft cocktail movement and promote the amazing work being done in the bar business.

SS: You’re the founder of Portland Cocktail Week (PDXCW). There are so many industry-orientated conferences, why did you decide to start up another?

LJ: Portland Cocktail Week is the only conference built entirely for the trade. Each of our events- whether they’re a seminar, a party or experience- is crafted with bartenders in mind. Since they’re our only audience, we’re able to build programming at the highest level. Our attendees are BAR and Bar Smarts Grads - not to mention Tales veterans, and they’re looking for masters-level programming. In Portland, we’re able to provide that. Our other goal for Portland Cocktail Week is community building. By putting 120 of the country’s best and brightest bartenders up in the Jupiter Hotel for all five days, we’re able to foster a cross-country conversation and connect like-minded bartenders from nearly every state in the country. 

SS: How does PDXCW differ from the other conferences?

LJ: There are so many conferences out there, and each has their own identity. As an industry, and really, as a movement, we’re so lucky to have these festivals popping up from coast-to-coast. But, for these conferences to all survive, they have to have something that makes them different. Portland’s motto has and always been: “For bartenders, by bartenders.” This means every party, every seminar, every activity is dictated by the bartending community. We crowdsource from this growing community to create programming that will spark conversation, build relationships and strengthen our community. That, and we’ll have a llama. You can rent those in Portland.

SS: What is your goal for PDXCW?

LJ: Outside of having a damn good time? Portland Cocktail Week is all about community. Our goal is to bring together a brilliant, engaging and talented group of bartenders from as many cities as possible in an effort to create even more momentum for the craft cocktail movement.

SS: This the third PDXCW, what have you learned along the way?

LJ: Each year, we’ve become increasingly trade oriented. We’ve learned that Portland is a bartender playground, and truly, there is no city more suited for a trade-only festival, and that’s not just because of the strip clubs. Portland has emerged as one of the nation’s most exciting cocktail scenes, and being able to share their excitement and innovation has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

SS: How does a bartender get to attend PDXCW? Can they just buy a ticket to Portland and say ‘Here I am’?

LJ: Here’s the deal. As a bartender, you can just show up if you’ve filled out the Bartender Application found here: http://lushlife.wufoo.com/forms/2012-pdx-cocktail-week-bartender-admissions/. From the group that applies, we’ll be putting 120 of them up at the Jupiter Hotel, which will be the hub of the festivities. For those not selected to stay with us in the hotel, we’ll have inexpensive housing options and will provide tickets to all events. Basically, if you fill out the application before July 14th, you’ve got a ticket to the festival which includes food, drink and dangerous amounts of fun.

Again, Early Admissions for Portland Cocktail Week are due on July 14, 2012. And, to apply, all you have to do is fill out the application found here: http://lushlife.wufoo.com/forms/2012-pdx-cocktail-week-bartender-admissions/

For a fun video to see all that you missed last year and the shenanigans you can expect this year, check out this link (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=406568019389568).

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