Whitney Rabalais chronicles Alys Beach Crafted from conception to execution, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the soul of the production.
By Whitney Rabalais
The funding of signature events at Alys Beach is one of the primary roles of the Alys Foundation, along with the pursuit of cultural explorations within the town and providing support for local nonprofits within the larger community. With the launch of a brand-new signature event planned for this Fall, contributing writer Whitney Rabalais will chronicle Alys Beach Crafted from conception to execution, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the soul of the production.
Crafted, the cocktail and makers’ extravaganza coming to Alys in October, is the brainchild of Alexis Miller, Alys Beach Director of Events. Wanting to curate the best event possible Ms. Miller was aware she didn’t want to go it alone, so she recruited two of the most knowledgeable beverage vixens she knows to assist in its conception and creation. Enter Kellie Thorn, who in 2018 was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40 Tastemakers and for the past 3 years has served as Co-Chair of the Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee.
With the opening of the new Hotel Effie in Sandestin Ms. Thorn was brought on board as Bar Director, overseeing the cocktails, spirits and bar experiences at their three lounges, making these the 8th, 9th and 10th bar programs she has created over the past 11 years for Hugh Acheson Restaurants. As if her past and present work isn’t enough to garner deserved accolades, Ms. Thorn has further solidified her vast knowledge by becoming one of only 90-100 worldwide Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) Certified Cognac Educators, a group that advance the customs, culture and philosophy of cognac through courses, talks, symposiums and master classes. Additionally, she is a Wine and Spirit Education Trusts’ Certified Level 3 Spirits Educator, an advanced-level qualification for spirit specialist and laypeople who wish to vastly expand their comprehension of spirits through sampling, appraisal and characterization of distillates from around the world. A truly exotic and rare expansion of distillate knowledge, Ms. Thorn is one of only eleven Awamori Jinbners, an individual who cultivates a love of and education in awamori, a super long-aged sake. Along with the very short list of global jinbners, she has attained the historical, cultural and production knowledge necessary to gain such a revered distinction. Equally impressive is Christine Tarpey, who began her career in the hospitality industry at the tender age of 15.
Soon after entering the profession, she found a desire to focus on the beverage side of service. Transferring to Dallas then Las Vegas she expanded her knowledge through tutelages with other beverage professionals as well as Master Sommeliers and notable celebrity chefs. With her knowledge expanding and her obsession growing she left the coarse sands of the Sin City desert for the sugar white sands of our 30A hamlet. At Alys Ms. Tarpey worked as the beverage guru at Caliza restaurant but soon rose through the ranks to become the Beverage Director of Alys Beach. While serving as Beverage Director, she was integral in the opening of NEAT Bottle Shop and Tasting Room. Along with the orchestration of their beverage curriculum she helped synthesize and supervise a monthly rotating menu in collaboration with the NEAT team. In 2019 Ms. Tarpey branched out and became the founder and owner of Better Together Beverage, a woman owned and woman operated “boutique beverage experience” where she and her staff carefully execute a flawless beverage event of your predilection. Along with Ms. Miller, these industry powerhouses have brainstormed, consulted and connived to bring fascinating seminars and experiences to Crafted. Through these events they hope to pique your curiosity for the sights, scents, terroirs and tastes of beverages and the artistry involved in crafting exceptional spirits and remarkable cocktails.
Two such planned offerings: Party Drinks—intimated or overwhelmed with the idea of being that perfect host who not only serves up all the best food and wine but also creates a talked about cocktail to satisfy your friends’ and family’s discriminating palates? Who wants all that pressure, and dare we say judgment? This seminar will give you all the necessary tools needed to craft the perfect batch cocktail ahead of the game allowing you to sit back, grin wily and soak up all the praise sure to be bestowed upon you. Beach Boat Drinks—not sure what to bring on your next beach/boat/drinking adventure? This workshop presents the perfect liquid refreshments to handle all your requirements for a day in the sun, surf and sand. All you need bring is the sunscreen. Jimmy Buffett would be proud (and more than a little envious).
*Note: Images of the 2021 30A Wine Festival: Intermezzo as captured by Pure7 Studios.
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