This is a guest post by Tory O'Hare, Founder of the Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild.

With the Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild’s mission reflecting the group’s passion and desire for strengthening West Michigan’s cocktail culture, and ExperienceGR’s consistent creative efforts to boost Grand Rapids’ community engagement, a cocktail festival seems like the perfect collaboration.

The Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild is excited to join Experience Grand Rapids and the Michigan Distiller’s Guild to invite you to the first-ever Grand Rapids Cocktail Week!

We’re kicking off an 11-day long celebration focuses on the burgeoning cocktail movement and helping the public explore and educate themselves to enjoy a higher standard of drinking culture, plus encourages local bars and restaurants to step up the caliber of their spirits programs and learn more about Michigan and craft distilleries.

The most important aspect of developing better education and appreciation for cocktails and their craft is the ability to develop a stronger appreciation of quality over quantity as it pertains to the imbibed spirit, and the recognition that a well-made cocktail can easily stand-in for a fantastic beer or glass of wine (both in flavor and in alcohol-level) during any great meal.

Here’s a lightning-fast taste of all of the fun planned for Grand Rapids Cocktail Week;

We’re putting a large focus on GR Cocktail Week’s Restaurant Features, where we’ve invited local bars and restaurants to offering a special Cocktail Week option, including two specialty cocktails featuring Michigan spirits, plus a paired small-plate...all for under $25. What better way to explore the growing GR cocktail scene than to grab a friend and explore some new themes and skills of our local bartenders?

The Downtown Market will be joining cocktail week by featuring Michigan Spirits in several cocktail classes, tastings, and bar-events to help show-off the craft distilling movement in out state, including a fantastic Holiday Cocktail Class hosted by Jenney Grant, Beverage Manager of the market, and a local distilling expert.

Mixology at Cocktail Week Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum joins Cocktail Week with American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, a fascinating look  at how the American populace dealt with the “dry times” (spoiler: it didn’t go well.)

One of my personal favorite events (not least because I’ll be lecturing at it) will be this months’ Big Screen Cuisine Presents: “Hey, Bartender,” a fabulous event series held in partnership with the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the Downtown Market. We’ll be hosting a fascinating class on cocktails, spirits, and the history of the drink, with four guest-lecturers, plenty of sampling, appetizers, and demonstrations, and follow that with a screening of the new documentary “Hey, Bartender,” which shows a fascinating glimpse of the modern “mixology movement” and what goes in to opening a “hot new bar.”

Finally (and most exciting), the IRON BARTENDER: Championship Finals will be held on Wednesday, November 18 at the Public Museum. If you haven’t seen one of these cocktail-throwndowns, you’ve been missing out. This month, IRON BARTENDER will invite back all 6 winners of the previous six Iron Bartender Competitions for a 6-way battle-royal, where drinks will be slung, smack will be talked, and everyone will have a wildly fun time watching cocktails speed-created from secret ingredients, which have ranged from Faygo Rock n’ Rye to Squid Ink. You’ll definitely want to catch the carnage and see who gets crowned GR’s IRON BARTENDER CHAMPION!

Details and more information (including times, dates, reservations, etc.) will be available on or on GR Cocktail Guild across all social media platforms. Looking forward to clinking a glass with you during this November’s first-ever Grand Rapids Cocktail Week!