It’s Not too late to get out and see some of Sacramento’s best bartenders at work!
Midtown Cocktail Week Sacramento launched in 2008 as the brainchild of mixologist Erick Castro and Joe Anthony Savala.
Midtown Cocktail Week is a dynamic annual event that is ever-evolving to lead the way in Sacramento’s cocktail culture.
Activity during the week includes:
- Cocktail creation education
- Recognition of local cocktail innovators and leaders
- Diverse and exotic cocktail menus at featured venues
- Encouragement of responsible cocktail consumption
Our Mission: To host a community-wide celebration of Midtown Sacramento’s diverse mixology community; a week of both celebration and education of responsible cocktail culture.
For more information please go to: Midtown Cocktail week
Erick Castro, MCW Co-Founder Bio
He’s simply a bartender; well that’s what he calls his occupation, but many others would say he is a passionate mixologist. Erick Castro, the 31 year-old General Manager of Rickhouse in San Francisco and Co-creator of Midtown Cocktail Week in Sacramento, is extremely enthusiastic about the art of the cocktail.
Castro was born in Riverside County and raised throughout Southern California. He graduated from San Diego State University in 2004 with a degree in Communications; Advertising. Years before he graduated he found his true passion; that passion was being behind the bar. Castro credits many of the basic skills and knowledge he uses as a bartender to his position at B.J.’s Brewery while in college. But his passion for mixology was definitely fabricated was he moved to Northern California. In 2006 he began working at Zocalo’s in Midtown, where he met Joe Anthony Savala. The pair shared a passion for exceptional cocktails and found themselves traveling to San Francisco quite often seeking out innovative bar programs and the people behind them. His passion and knowledge of the cocktail world is constantly being cultivated by talking to industry innovators and asking questions. “We all stimulate each other, progression happens when we learn from each other.” The pair’s growing obsession with cocktails inspired them to create an event where industry individual and community members could come together to celebrate the art of the cocktail.
In 2008 Castro and Savala created Sacramento’s first ever Cocktail celebration, Midtown Cocktail Week. The duo’s idea for the event was not only to celebrate artisan cocktails but also to showcase local bar programs and the local spirits, products, and produce used in them. Castro credits Sacramento’s unique location in the state as well as its resident’s phenomenal pallets to the success and acceptance of its cocktail culture. “People in Sacramento are down to have killer drinks, and I am proud to be a part of getting it going.” Castro states that Sacramento’s ability to obtain fresh local produce year round sets it apart from other major cocktail epicenters such as New York and New Orleans. He hopes that through education and willingness to venture away from the average cocktail, Sacramento residents will learn the unique beauty of an artisan cocktail. That is cocktails made with freshly squeezed juice and quality spirits. Castro hopes that the event will continue to grow and become comparable to other major cities cocktail celebrations.
Over the past ten years Erick Castro has made quite a name for himself in the cocktail industry and Sacramento looks forward to each summer of Midtown Cocktail Week under his influence. Although he currently resides in San Francisco, and says he’ll never leave, he visits Sacramento quite often. You can currently find him serving up drinks at Rickhouse in the Financial District or sipping on an Old Fashioned at one of San Francisco’s many unique establishments.
Joe Anthony Savala, MCW Co-Founder Bio
His bar program is recognized as one of the first true mixology establishments in Sacramento, one of many proverbial feathers in the cap of this Sacramento local. Joe Anthony Savala is the 32 year-old Beverage Director at Zocalo in Midtown and Co-Founder of Midtown Cocktail Week, is extremely passionate about the cocktail culture in his community. This enthusiasm drives his desire to be innovative and transform the way his community approaches drinking cocktails.
Joe Anthony Savala was born in Porterville, California and attended Fresno State University where he studied Journalism. Shortly after obtaining his degree Savala become a producer for a local television station. It didn’t take long for Savala to realize that his passion was somewhere else and that love was in the food and beverage industry. Savala left the television station and began working as the Wine Director for Parma, a small Italian restaurant in Fresno, California. It was there that Savala studied nearly every varietal of Italian wines. This included being immersed in the subject while spending 2 summers in Italy. In 2006 he met Ernesto Jimenez, Zocalo’s owner, who offered him a position as Beverage Manager at his Midtown restaurant. Savala has transformed Zocalo’s bar program into what it is today; including fresh squeezed juices, local products, and exceptional spirits. Savala applies the same learning technique for tequila as he did with wine; he has visited over 20 different distilleries. “The only way to truly learn about a specific product is by seeing how it is created.” Although Savala says he still loves wine, he definitely feels that spirits are far more exciting. He credits innovator and tequila enthusiast, Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Bar in San Francisco, with igniting his passion for mixology. This passion amplified when he began working with bartender, Erick Castro. Their infatuation with cocktails lead to many late nights of sitting at the bar talking about cocktails as well as frequent trips to San Francisco. Savala recognizes that the key to innovation is an open mind and ongoing education. Savala is excited to be a part of the evolution and growth of the Midtown cocktail culture.
In 2008 Savala and Castro created a small grassroots event in Midtown Sacramento showcasing local bar programs and their innovated approach to creating cocktails. The event was Midtown Cocktail Week (MCW). The pair recognized Sacramento’s unique opportunity to work with local spirits, produce, and products to create artisan cocktails. The two hoped to create a city-wide celebration and educational experience uniting industry individuals with the community they serve. Savala sees MCW as opportunity to bring all bar owners and their employees together to create a sense of community pride throughout the industry. Midtown Cocktail Week’s growth has surpassed Savala’s expectations and he is excited to see Sacramento embracing the art of the cocktail. He recognizes that MCW is in its infancy but with the support of the community he believes the event will be comparable to other major cocktail weeks in other cities. The ultimate goal is to see people who love cocktails coming to Midtown Cocktail Week no matter the distance.
Joe Anthony Savala’s integrity and compassion to the mixology movement is not only apparent in his bar program but through his dedication to this event. It is professionalism and dedication like Savala’s that drives the cocktail culture in our community. Next time you see Savala around town, don’t to hesitant to send him a Negroni, his favorite classic cocktail.
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