50+ Libations: Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest

Sample some of the deepest, smokiest beverages (and learn about the sips).

EACH DRINK HAS ITS DAY... around the Golden State, but there are certain beverages that seem to get the lion's share -- or make that the whole animal park's share -- of attention when it comes to tasting events. Even very niche libations are getting their own parties -- think flavored beers or vintage soda-flavored paletas -- so if you like a particular sip, you only need to wait long enough for its annual, or bi-annual, celebration to come back around. And agave enthusiasts keep an eye on the late-summer calendar, and on the American Riviera, in anticipation of trying various iterations of their favorite spirit. It's the Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest we speak of, and it is hanging its half-decade banner in 2014.

SO... what have the last five years brought to tequila-ists who make the journey to sniff and swish and discuss and drink that deep and powerful beverage? Loads of new labels to try, experts to chat with, and maybe a new brand to add to the liquor cabinet. Eager to grow your mescal knowledge and to wile away the day with smarties who know this spirit very well? Then plan on spending the final Saturday in August in Elings Park.

THAT DAY WOULD BE... Aug. 30, and "over 50 hand-selected premium tequilas and mezcales" will be on the pour. Pepe Marquez & The Groove Line are providing the entertainment, the day's funds benefit the Elings Park Foundation, the Legal Aid Foundation, and the Pacific Pride Foundation, and is there a dress code? You bet: It's not too fussy but organizers are recommending that sun hats and khakis come under consideration as you gussy up for the classy, raise your glass event. Need cab information to a local hotel? That's incredibly important, too, and organizers have the info posted here.

A SPIRITED TIME: Will you leave Santa Barbara having found both a solid mixer and a fine sipping tequila? That's what the day is all about: appreciation, complex flavors, and an afternoon spent in the sunshine. Get your ticket info.

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