Even with 80-plus musical acts, more than 30 world-class street artists, live culinary demos and a speaker series, there will still be moments of downtime amid the excitement at Life Is Beautiful (Sept. 25-27, LifeIsBeautiful.com). That’s the time to grab a bite and a little refreshment from any of the four Culinary Villages and many beverage sponsor experiences (also known as brand activations) scattered throughout the festival footprint.
Joining returning Ketel One, Jack Daniel’s and Fernet-Branca, and first-timer Milagro in the lineup of major sponsors are Dos Equis beer and Champagne Taittinger. Look for the Dos Equis (and Heineken) activation at Seventh Street and Ogden Avenue, as well as the 10 roaming vendors serving Dos Equis from backpack dispensers around the Downtown and Ambassador stages from 5 p.m. Taittinger will pour its brut Champagne and Domaine Carneros American sparkling wine at a booth by the Ambassador stage. On the Hyde Out VIP stage, Taittinger bottle service will begin at the standard 750 milliliters and go all the way up to a 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar (equivalent to 20 bottles). Also available are 750-milliliter bottles of Taittinger’s elite Comtes de Champagne blanc de blancs and rosé.
Happily, the draft cocktail program is a go, with two confirmed offerings. Rhum Clément Créole Shrub will serve its Born On the Bayou on draft at the northeast corner of Fremont and Eighth Streets near the Insomniac stage. (Next to that, find whole baby coconuts filled with coconut water and rum!) And Milagro Tequila will have a spot on Seventh Street between Stewart and Ogden avenues for its Piña Verde draft cocktail.
In anticipation of the heat, seven frozen cocktails are confirmed, and will be spread throughout the festival to instantly bring on a chill. There will be one from each marquee sponsor, plus a frozen Wondermint Grasshopper, Bols Yoghurt frozen yogurt stand with choose-your-own toppings, and a frozen Irish coffee a la New Orleans’ infamous Erin Rose bar, made with Teeling Irish Whiskey and Caffe Borghetti.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey will debut the JDX, a 60-foot tractor-trailer that opens into a two-story music-themed party patio with a DJ booth, awnings and a Jack Daniel’s cocktail bar. Get off your feet and into the shade at the Ketel One Lounge, offering ottomans, a photo booth and pub table charging stations at the Downtown Stage. In the Culinary Village by that same stage, get your #RoséAllDay on with Acrobat Rosé and Carpano Bianco spritzers. Yes, spritzers.
Now, if you want to see what goes into batching 5,000 gallons of cocktails (120,000 individual drinks!), you can observe the goings-on in the Learning Village behind Container Park on Eighth Street. Joining the Wirtz Beverage Nevada team in “Batch World” are beverage development manager Eric Hay and beverage development specialist Johnny Costello. Watch it, then drink it.
Between performances on the Downtown stage, live cocktail demonstrations will whet your appetite. The 10-minute how-tos will be filmed live in the VIP section and projected onto a big screen for all to see. Gracing the stage to show off their cocktail stylings will be Wirtz beverage development specialist Andrew Pollard (making a Fernet-Branca cocktail), Wirtz beverage development manager Eric Hay (Jack Daniel’s), Ketel One national brand ambassador Ricky Gomez, Milagro Tequila national brand ambassador Jaime Salas and consultant Willy Shine (brand to be determined).
Debuting this year, and kicking off when the festival closes each night, AfterLife will take over the Gold Spike, the Griffin, Inspire, Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whisky and Park on Fremont. The free after-party series goes from about 1 a.m. till the wee hours, with Fremont East becoming a pedestrian zone with a block party feel as you traipse from party to party to see Jillionaire and artists from the Fool’s Gold and iHeartComix record labels.
Inspire Theatre will again host SoundHouse. By day, the building will be home to invite-only acoustic performance and CBS Radio live artist interviews. By night, it will host Dos Equis and Ketel One parties that are open to the public, after the festival has concluded for the evening. And look for surprise A-list guest appearances in the unlikeliest of places Downtown all weekend. For details as they develop, keep an eye on the social media channels of venues in the Fremont Street corridor.
On September 26, get your brunch on with O Face Doughnuts at Park on Fremont, which will open at 10 a.m. for a festival-only a la carte menu of brunch items, featuring O Face treats. Rock ’n’ Roll Wine has the brunch honors September 27 for a Wine Amplified sangria brunch, 10 a.m. at Park on Fremont.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Luckily, the Life Is Beautiful app will launch before the festival, laying out all your music, learning, art, dining and drinking options. Like what you taste? The app will share the recipes for this year’s festival cocktails, so life can also be beautiful at your home bar.