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This is How You Survive a Food & Drink Festival

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Today’s blog post is from Caitlin Van Horn from Allentown, NJ. She’s hoping that her article about surviving a food & drink festival will save countless lives and help Bourbon & Banter readers get home safely. If you would like to read more from Caitlin please let us know in the comments and make sure to share her post with your friends. If we get enough positive feedback we might just make her a regular contributor here on Bourbon & Banter.

Your Alcoholism Is Our Art Photo

Welcome to summer, sweltering season of The Festival. You’ve probably got how to survive summer musical festivals down (yes to rain boots, no to children and skipping out on sunscreen), but once you add alcoholic beverages and food to the mix, things can get a little dicey. No one wants to head home accidentally drunk with an empty wallet, and without having tasted half the things that made you want to go in the first place—but rest assured, I’ve got you covered.

Research: Chances are, wherever you’re going will be absolutely stocked with amazing drinks. And that’s great! But going in blind will leave you more overstimulated than a Midwestern tourist in Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. At events like GoogaMooga and SAVOR, there’s just so much going on that without a little foreknowledge, you’ll be unhappily drinking swill and missing out on the limited release everyone’s amped about.

-Plan: Once you know what you want to see, figure out how you’re going to do that. Certain things will run out—if something’s high on your list and Twitter can’t shut up about it, you should try getting there first. This is especially true for out-of-town distillers or companies with limited distribution, things not available on the regular menu, and anything that rhymes with “sappy tan wrinkle”.  (Oh, PS: Don’t starve yourself the day of. No one likes a cranky, hypoglycemic foodie.)

-Budget: No. Seriously. Places that have their offerings a la carte will make the contents of your wallet disappear faster than a fresh batch of cronuts. You should already be prioritized as far as what you want to see, so focus on that, and go for the smaller-sized offerings so that you can try more. Oh, and a word about seconds? Don’t. If it’s that good, you’ll hunt down the purveyor after the festival, when their prices are cheaper and the portion is probably bigger.

Don’t like it? Ditch it. You’re not going to hurt the chef or the brewmaster or the artisanal caramel maker’s feelings. Many festivals will have tall silver buckets to rinse out your glass or dump out that ounce of white dog that you just weren’t crazy about. Use them. Your stomach can hold about 2-4 liters of fluid, and it should mostly be the good stuff.

This is How You Survive a Food & Drink Festival

Greensward: Murray’s Cheesemaster Reserve. Snapped at SAVOR so I could remember how tasty it was.

-Document. Yes, yes, I know “eat it, don’t Tweet it!” Fair point, if it’s going to get in the way of your enjoyment of the culinary in front of you. I’ve definitely let my eggs congeal at brunch as I tried to find the right Instagram filter, and I’m loathe to let it happen again. However, you might be eating and drinking so much that in the next few days those killer smoked old fashioned slip from your memory. A quick snap on your phone (you don’t even have to post it!) or a jot down in a notepad (do they still make those…?) can jog your memory. 


Caitlin Van Horn Photo

Having a fangirl moment with Sam Calagione (of Dogfish Head) at SAVOR.

For the love of God–eat! Drink! Be merry! This seems like it’s obvious, but it needs to be said. Try new things! This is the place to do it. Raw pigeon? Oysters?  Washed-rind cheeses that smell like both a barn AND a swamp? Go wild. And, seriously, no one at a culinary festival gives a shit about your diet—so you shouldn’t either! The gym will be there tomorrow, but all of that food and hooch won’t be.

Parting shots: Don’t be afraid to snap a few picks with your favorite distiller, founder, etc, and nothing fixes a food baby and a hangover like some Tums and Fernet. 







About the Author

Caitlin Van Horn


Caitlin Van Horn is a recent graduate and freelance writer doing PR by day and writing about books and booze by night. After spending four years in an commercial bakery, she can make a mean bear claw. During a Very Dark Time in college, she drank a lot of vodka gimlets, but from there it was a quick switch to whiskey sours and, currently, Boulevardiers. Every time she gets sent a vodka-cranberry at a bar, her soul withers a little.