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Friday, July 22 • 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Elevating the Dive Bar

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Dive bars, Old Man bars, Neighborhood bars. Whatever you call them, our everyday joints are an endangered species, and many that remain are learning that they must adapt their culture and offerings to an evolving clientele or risk losing younger drinkers who expect a well-made cocktail when choosing where to spend their money. Updating a dive bar, especially one with an established culture and storied past, is a delicate proposition. It requires a healthy respect for the past, and a deft hand at interpreting modern cocktail and spirits culture through the lens of the specific people and place in which the change is to occur. How far down the rabbit hole can a joint descend if it is known for bad beer and cheap shots? How to get an established clientele to try new things, and new cocktail drinkers to participate in an existing bar's culture? Can you open a regular joint that offers amazing spirits and thoughtful cocktails? To discuss this and many other questions, we have assembled a panel of respected bar professionals from around the world who have figured out how to strike the balance between looking to the future and honoring the past.

avatar for Michael Neff

Michael Neff

Bar Director, Holiday Cocktail Lounge
Michael J. Neff, a 20-year craft cocktail veteran, bartender and entrepreneur, is currently Bar Director at Holiday Cocktail Lounge, the newly-restored haunt of Madonna, Sinatra, Keith Richards and Trotsky. Featured in media across the country as a cocktail haven with dive-bar sensibilities... Read More →

avatar for Alastair Burgess

Alastair Burgess

Organiser, Happiness Forgets
ALASTAIR BURGESS Alastair Burgess is the owner of renowned London cocktail bars Happiness Forgets and Original Sin. He has worked in the business for nearly 20 years and is considered one of the first people to open a New York style cocktail bar in Europe. He has become a voice for... Read More →
avatar for Mike Miller

Mike Miller

Owner, Delilah\'s
I own Delilah's, Chicago's premiere cavern tavern, for the past 22 years. We carry over 1000 spirits including 800 Whiskeys. I judge booze for Tastings/BTI as well as a number of other specialty events. I throw a party for a living, let's talk.
avatar for Damian Windsor

Damian Windsor

Beverage Director, Cocktails & Dreams LLC.
Juggling many hats as Bartender at Roger Room, Beverage Director at Westbound and partner at Church Bar. Damian has lived and worked in Canberra, Sydney, New York, Toronto, New York again, Miami and Los Angeles. I have rounded out the life experience with a Wife, 2 kids, a Cat... Read More →

avatar for Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill

America's largest family-owned and operated distilled spirits producer and marketer, Heaven Hill Brands has grown beyond its traditional roots as a Bourbon distiller to become the country's seventh largest overall distilled spirits producer and marketer with a portfolio of well-known... Read More →

Friday July 22, 2016 1:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
Acadia Suite at the Royal Sonesta Hotel