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In good spirits: San Diego Spirits Festival is set to pour into La Jolla

The San Diego Spirits Festival will move to La Jolla for its 13th year Sept. 24-25.
(Courtesy of San Diego Spirits Festival )

The 13th annual San Diego Spirits Festival moves to La Jolla this month, and its founder hopes those who attend will find many happy hours.

“I’m so thrilled that I say I’ve brought it home to La Jolla,” said Liz Edwards, a longtime La Jolla resident.

The Spirits Festival will run Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on Prospect Street.

The event will include unlimited cocktails featuring more than 65 brands of spirits, entertainment with samba and belly dancers and an ‘80s band, plus access to MCASD galleries and food from local venues such as Ranch Events Catering, Starfish Filipino Eatery and The Alcove.

After presenting the Spirits Festival in downtown San Diego the past 12 years, Edwards said moving it to La Jolla is “bringing another upmarket-level event to La Jolla.”

Guests will get to “try some of the most expensive spirits out there,” she said. Some of the pours included in the ticket price would run more than $600 per bottle elsewhere.

Brands such as Endless West Whiskey, Don Ramon Tequila and Wild Roots Vodka will be represented, along with dozens of liqueurs and ready-to-drink cocktails.

“I’m really thrilled that the brands all rallied around,” Edwards said. “They’re all excited.”

The San Diego Spirits Festival will include unlimited cocktails, food and entertainment.
(Courtesy of San Diego Spirits Festival)

There aren’t that many “true cocktail festivals in the U.S.,” she said, adding that similar events are trade shows and not geared toward the public.

The San Diego Spirits Festival is intended for “connoisseurs, lovers of good alcohol,” as well as chefs and bartenders, Edwards said.

“It’s a true festival,” she added. “The entertainment will blow people away as well.”

She believes having the festival at the recently renovated MCASD will elevate the event, since accessing the art exhibits and terraces adds a rare beauty.

Edwards said she’s proud of what she’s built the past 12 years.

“I am the San Diego Spirits Festival,” she said. “I wear every single hat out there.

“What the brands and people love about the festival and its success is that when they get on the phone, they know they’re talking to me. I’m the owner.”

The Spirits Festival grew from a media company Edwards started called Let’s Play Downtown, for which she would interview spirits brands at red-carpet events.

“I met a lot of people within the spirits industry” and noticed there weren’t any spirits festivals locally, she said.

She started the San Diego Spirits Festival in June 2009, leveraging her contacts in the media and spirits industries.

“It’s been tough,” she said, “but I think in the end it’s been worth it.”

After breaking even three years after starting the festival and taking a break in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is still going strong, Edwards said.

The move to La Jolla will further solidify the event’s presence on people’s annual calendars, she said, and she hopes to keep the festival in La Jolla from now on.

San Diego Spirits Festival

When: 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla

Cost: $95 for Sept. 24 and $85 for Sept. 25

Information: sandiegospiritsfestival.com