Invasion Cocktail is launching its 4th edition from May 10th to 16th in Montreal, which includes:
- a week of special cocktail lists in tons of bars and restaurants
- a big opening night party in Old Montreal
- a sugar shack cocktail brunch at Au Pied de Cochon’s famous Cabane à Sucre
- the epic MadeWithLove cocktail competition
- two days of seminars for professionals
The 2016 edition had more than 8,000 attendees for all those events. And this year is looking even bigger.
The annual fest is thrown by MadeWithLove, “Canada’s most extravagante mixology competition,” according to the Invasion Cocktail press release. I don’t know any others that come close.
This year the festival closing MadeWithLove blowout is happening May 16th at TRH-Bar (pronouced “trash bar,” which is fitting because the release also describes the event as a “glam-trash closing night”). The ticket includes the cocktail tasting, some appetizers and the #JägerBBQ on the terrace, courtesy of Jägermeister. You will also have the chance to attend a thrilling skateboard competition, a presentation of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
For the last few years, the event has been a veritable $65 all-you-can-drink booze crawl from station to station in a dark, music-pumping space where Canada’s 16 top mixologists (with an impressive Montreal contingent) compete for a panel of judges for the title of Best Barchef MadeWithLove 2017. The event is sponsored by specific alcohol brands, so the artists/cocktail makers work with those ingredients and combine them with lemon foams, chocolate mousses, homemade syrups, cordials and shrubs to win the audience and the judges’ hearts. The prize includes a trip to one of the partnering alcohol brand’s distilleries.
Maybe more importantly, though, is the competition for the People’s Choice. The mixologists also face off for the dog tags that every attendee can give to the maker of his or her favourite specialty cocktail. Good luck NOT drinking too much. They’re not pouring half cocktails here…So with the 16 options available for everyone in attendance to try, that’s a lot of booze.
That’s theoretically $4 a cocktail ($65/16=$4.06) and there’s no tip. Please don’t try to drink 16 entire cocktails, though. It’s also a lot of shaking for these masters, who come with a prep team and train for this event.
This year, more than 35 bars in Montreal and Quebec City are participating in the Cocktail Invasion week. That means more than 250 specialty cocktails will be available in bars in the two cities, giving passport holders a reason to frequent as many as possible. You used to have to purchase a passport, which got you a discount on those drinks during the week (usually around 50% off what a regular cocktail would cost in those bars), but this year, the passport is available online for free. Basically, before if you ended up drinking something like four cocktail total at any of these bars over the week, you’d get your money back. Now you automatically get a discount, though I’m not sure if the discount is more or less than it was before. It might depend on the bar.
And everyone with a passport is automatically entered into a draw for one of ten mixology workshops offered by the École du Bar de Montréal.
The opening party will certainly be ridiculous. It’s May 10th at the PHI Centre from 6-9pm and costs $45 (reg $65, but I’m not sure when it increases). Seems as though the competitors from the MadeWithLove comp will be there, so you can taste their creations before the big event.
And new this year is the May 14th sugar shack cocktail experience at the Au Pied de Cochon Cabane à Sucre. It’s a huge all-inclusive $100 brunch featuring four cocktails per person, an enormous Martin Picard meal and transport by bus from Montreal.
May 15-16 are the professional days, with workshops for industry pros that’ll feature guest speakers, technical workshops, discussion panels and training seminars. It’s $75 per day and the hosts include:
Camille Ralph, St-Germain Global Ambassador
Nicola Battafarano, winner of the Rhumbellion 2016 competition
Dr. Don Livermore, master blender at Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd.
Simone Caporale, Best International Bartender 2014
And if you want to learn to shake, stir and blend a cocktail yourself, there’ll be workshops at Montreal’s Ateliers et Saveurs.