When it comes to this Saturday’s first T&T Drinks Festival its all about the definitions. In the traditional sense a souk is an open-air Arabic marketplace or commercial quarter. However, festival founder Dennis Ramdeen was looking for a word that would exude sophistication when he chose Souk as the theme for the festival.
“People will think, ‘They don’t sell alcohol at an Arabic market’ but it’s a metaphor and we’re not going to get tied down. You’re not going to see Aladdin and a genie lamp when you come in either,” he said during an interview at Souk’s headquarters, Pepper Advertising, corner of Woodford and Warren St, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday.
This year’s drinks festival will be defined by more than 30 exhibitors of beer, spirits, wine and food—all of which have been paired for a premium taste experience according to Ramdeen. Carib Brewery will be setting up a brew pub while Angostura products like Single Barrel, White Oak, Forres Park and Vat 1919 rums will each have display booths to themselves. While distributors of foreign liquors like Grey Goose, Jose Cuervo, Patron and Tanqueray Gin will also be represented.
As Ramdeen described it, “this is the opportunity for brands to show off.” The definition also includes seven live musical acts, including pannist Natasha Joseph and reggae singer Verse iTal and live performance. Artist Darren Cheewah has already commenced work on a 60-foot mural which he will complete during the course of the festival.
All the festival elements are collectively deemed “edutainment” by Ramdeen who said the idea for Souk was to breathe life into the local entertainment experience. “I think our entertainment has become same-old same-old. We have the all-inclusive, we have the clubs and house parties, but beyond that there aren’t many options. We wanted to bring something experiential to people. We also wanted this to be organic.”
He added that the local market for alcohol has expanded from a beer, scotch and rum base to include wine, vodka, flavoured liqueur and much more. “The festival speaks to that maturity and need for choices as people expect more from their drink experience.” Key to the Souk drink experience will also be the Drinks Academy, where mixologists such as Angostura’s Raymond Edwards will share with patrons tips on classic drink mixes like daiquiris and pina coladas.
Edwards will also share local spins on classics such as the Saga Boy Mohito which uses portugal juice, White Oak rum and Angostura orange bitters. Original mixes will also be available like Sugar Bum Bum, a rum and peach puree blend, and Tropical Bliss, a rum, mango juice and bitters combination. “Alcohol is kind of central to Trini life. I mean you can be driving to work in the morning and see the rum shop open already but I think we’re becoming more sophisticated in our tastes and we’re learning to be a little more responsible.”
• To find our more about Souk: T&T Drinks Festival visit them online at www.ttdrinksfestival.com or find them on Facebook under T&T Drinks Festival.