Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the convention is the focus and the parties the icing on the cake or vice versa. The 26th annual Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show threw down hard this year, with heavy-hitting soirees at Haze on March 7 with Three 6 Mafia, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and protein-infused Devotion vodka; Pure on March 8 with Absolut, Cruzan and Red Stag; and Marquee on March 9 for the Top 100 and DJ Spin-Off party. Interspersed were intimate affairs like the well-timed two-year anniversary of BarMagic of Las Vegas’ Social Mixology traveling speakeasy, held at Wynn’s La Cave, where mixologists from near and far created a special menu of cocktails for the who’s who of the cocktail community. Two Vegas bartenders made their mark at the fifth annual Shake it Up! Competition, with JG Steakhouse’s Darren West taking fifth and Vesper Bar’s Chris Hopkins taking second.
On the convention floor—hangovers notwithstanding—the scene was optimistic, the ideas fresh. An estimated 28,000 nightclub and bar owners, beverage retailers and emerging brands took meetings, attended seminars and networked, all the while keeping an eye out for the next big trend. Beyond the annual glut of energy drinks, hangover remedies, new vodka brands were emerging such as Vivid Entertainment’s eponymous vodka and 4 Orange, the world’s first vodka made from Florida oranges, 20 of ’em in every bottle. Also new this year was the first-ever opportunity for the public to experience a portion of the conference (other than the parties) with the Spirits of Mexico Las Vegas expo. NCBShow.com.