Crafty Cocktails Draw Hundreds to Joslyn Castle

OMAHA(KPTM)-A little over a year ago, Clark Ross tried to get a bunch of bartenders together to show off their signature cocktails, but no one showed up. On Sunday, it was a different story."The cocktail scene had moved so far forward in that year, that we went from literally zero people showing up to over forty bartenders on their day off coming in to talk about work," said Ross, a co-founder of the Omaha Craft Bartenders Guild.

In addition to the dozens of bartenders who participated in "Breaking the Ice", hundreds of others bought tickets to the first annual event which was held at Joslyn Castle.

Binoy Fernandez of I.O. Speak, says he has traveled extensively to research the cocktails he serves. Fernandez says Sunday's attendance is a good indication of the rising popularity of craft cocktails and the recognition Omaha is getting for its original drinks. "We are just as good, we are just as creative and in a lot of cases, we are better than what I've had from around the world," said Fernandez.

Cocktail connoisseurs were treated to drinks with interesting names and original ingredients. But Ethan Bondelid of The Berry & Rye says one obvious ingredient that all craft cocktails should have in common is quality ice. "The ice you start with is so important," said Bondelid who added, " You can start with the best spirits, but once you build that cocktail, it's going to dilute it," he said.

The focus on quality, had those mixing up the signature sippers using plenty of fresh fruit, even though it's been a little pricey lately. Laura Jehlik, who serves as the food and beverage director of Pacific Springs Golf Club, stresses the importance of good ingredients, even if it sometimes dips into profits. "We'll take a little on the back end just to keep the customers happy, to provide that better product," said Jehlik who is banking on those loyal customers to stick around and keep the craft cocktail craze going.