Party like it's 1933: Tampa hosts bigger Repeal Day

The reimagined four-day Repeal Day Conference & Gala will hit Tampa Dec. 4.

click to enlarge Repeal Day Party imbibers celebrate the Volstead Act's termination. - Kevin Tighe
Kevin Tighe
Repeal Day Party imbibers celebrate the Volstead Act's termination.


The region, and more specifically, Tampa dwellers, can expect more rounds of swanky cocktail gatherings leading up to the 81st anniversary of Prohibition’s end on Dec. 5.

Locals are familiar with the annual Repeal Day Party thrown by Tampa Bay’s chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, where sippers have been encouraged to sport 1930s-style attire while reveling since 2010. But this year, the event’s morphed into a four-day Repeal Day Conference & Gala.

From Thursday, Dec. 4, to Sunday, Dec. 7, beverage industry gurus, bartenders and spirits enthusiasts will commune over reinterpreted classics crafted by local and guest mixologists, cocktail-pairing dinners held at six Tampa eateries, seminars from the pros, which cover topics like vermouth and DIY bar start-ups, and more.

The event’s expansion models New Orleans’ five-day Tales of the Cocktail bartending summit hosted yearly in July, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Renowned mixologist Dale DeGroff, Diageo Spirits’ Elayne Duff, cocktail historian Elizabeth Pearce and Dushan Zaric of New York’s Employees Only bar will be among the Repeal Day conference’s highlighted guests.

Regionites may mingle with them, and many others, during four- and five-course meals at spots like Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club, edison: food+drink lab and Mise en Place on Dec. 4. (The full dinner schedule is available online.)

At 5:32 p.m. Dec. 5, the time and date that marked the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, a happy hour kickoff to Repeal Day will take place at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, where guests may voice their picks for this year’s official Repeal Day cocktail.

Tickets are $25 in advance, and $40 at the door. Admission includes access to a 25-seat Carpano vermouth seminar. Sessions will be offered about every half hour, and a gift will be distributed afterward.

The lavish gala portion of Repeal Day on Dec. 6 — which runs general admission guests $100, and costs $150 for VIP — has Ybor City’s Cuban Club as its backdrop until 1 a.m.

VIPers get in at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than the masses, for first dibs on cocktails, meet-and-greets with brand ambassadors and a champagne toast.

All ticket holders will enjoy small bites, live music, a casino and burlesque performers. They'll have the opportunity to meet Charles Joly, too, who won this year’s World Class Bartender of the Year competition.

Joly plans to concoct a signature drink inside a hidden room, where only 10 people may enter at a time. If guests discover the undisclosed chamber, they should whisper “Left Coast” to the person manning the door.

But, they only have the first two hours of the soirée to do so.

A portion of each day’s ticket sales will benefit Because of Ezra, the United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation and NOLA’s Museum of the American Cocktail.

The guild’s Bay area members and visiting guests will also help renovate the Tampa Heights Youth and Community Center on North Lamar Street, in partnership with the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association, on Dec. 4.

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