Event Recap: Maker’s Mark Faux Political Cocktail Party Wins [Gallery]

By Lanee Lee

If you voted and utilized your 15th amendment, you rock, no matter the outcome. Whether you’re cheering or mourning post-election, one thing we can all agree on is a stiff drink. The faux political party of Maker’s Mark, The Cocktail Party, campaigned throughout the election season to bring people together, no matter the political affiliation, over a glass of Maker’s Mark.

The Cocktail Party campaign trail stopped in San Francisco, Austin, New York City and finally, last Saturday, November 3, at the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. With the famous political odd couple, Clinton’s Democratic adviser James Carville and Republican Mary Matalan featured in ads as the Cocktail Party spokespeople of how Americans can be unified despite political affiliation, the Cocktail Party’s events were well attended by Maker’s Mark fans.

“Politics can get so intense, in all the wrong ways. So we wanted to lighten up the atmosphere a bit by introducing the Cocktail Party,” said Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark president and grandson of the original founder, Bill Samuels Sr. Their catchy political platform went like this: In America today, it’s time for honesty, it’s time to bring people together, it’s time to mix things up.

The bi-party-san Cocktail Party invites were sent out only to Maker’s Mark supporters aka ambassadors. The Maker’s Mark ambassador program is no charge. By becoming an ambassador by registering online at the Maker’s Mark ‘embassy,’ you can sign a Maker’s Mark barrel, buy a bottle from your own Maker’s Mark batch, get advance notice of special-release bottles, receive invites to exclusive tastings like the nationwide Cocktail Party events and also an annual kitchy Christmas gifts comes your way like an ugly sweater Maker’s Mark bottle warmer or sphere ice molds.

Each Cocktail Party event had its own flair depending on location. For example, the New York City bash was held outdoors at the Rockefeller Center with Carville and Matalan making a special appearance. Guests witnessed corn fermenting in one of bourbon company’s actual mash tuns, learned how to roll barrels into place and dipped collectable Cocktail Party bottles in their signature red wax. In Austin, despite the rather posh atmosphere at the The Driskill Hotel, Bill Samuels Jr. showed up dressed in full patriotic regalia as Uncle Sam. San Fransisco saw a flurry of Cocktail Party events at six different bars around town including 111 Minna, Osha Thai Embarcadero, Reed & Greenough, Wreck Room, Pete’s Tavern, and Pier 23. Each event had a specialty Maker’s Mark cocktail created by their respective in house bartender.

For the final whistle stop at their home base in Loretto, Kentucky, they pulled out all the corks and featured a live band, local food trucks, cooking demo by chef Lee Anne Wong of the Cooking Channel, and cocktails by New York City’s mixologist Lynnette Marrero.

Speaking of cocktails, the featured cocktail, aptly layered red, white and blue was the American Swizzler. Despite being a chilly, overcast day at the Maker’s Mark distillery, over 300 hundred people donned blue derby-style Cocktail Party hats, with red, white and blue cocktails in hand and mingled throughout the distillery’s grounds, taking tours, dancing and most importantly, in the Samuels’ family vision, coming together.