Cheers to the consortium

// Local launches group for alcohol, food lovers

If you ask Todd Buckley, Tacoma is one of the best places in the country to get good food and a good drink.

That’s the impression he wants others to get when they visit the gritty city and it’s his inspiration behind launching the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium.

“I want to educate people in the south sound to appreciate quality alcohol,” Buckley said.

The consortium, which started last month, aims to bring together business owners, bartenders and members of the public that love quality alcohol and food, and to share ideas and tips for creating a better, longer sustaining alcohol industry and culture in the south sound.

Although a group that caters to bringing quality alcohol aficionados together is a relatively new idea in Tacoma, groups like these have been thriving in Seattle and Portland for some time, Buckley said. Now it’s Tacoma’s turn.

Originally from Wenatchee, Buckley moved to Tacoma several years ago to study business and art at Pacific Lutheran University. He fell in love with the city and made it his home. Within the next few years, Buckley plans to launch a local Bourbon and Brandy distillery – his drinks of choice. First, he hopes to change the perception of Tacoma as a place for high quality.

“I get tired of the Tacoma stereotypes,” he said. “It’s frustrating to get something cool and watch it leave for Seattle a few years later. I want Tacoma to be successful in manufacturing alcohol.”

One only has to look around the city to see that Tacoma’s “second Renaissance” of alcohol manufacturing has begun, Buckley said.

Harmon Brewery. Wingman Brewery. Pont 21. Just to name a few.

But, Buckley says many of these businesses are scattered across the city without a regular outlet to get organized and discuss the industry. That’s where TAC comes in.

The group has begun hosting meetings at local bars and restaurants where members can mingle, talk about the industry, and share samples of their best crafts.

Since launching a month ago, Buckley said the group is gaining in popularity. Nearly 30 people descended on Pacific Grill for the group’s first meeting last month. Its second meeting, hosted at 1022 South July 17, had a crowd of about 25, with many traveling from Seattle to participate.

The meeting featured Seattle bar owner and mixology master Ted Munat, who shared tips and recipes from his acclaimed book “Left Coast Libations: The Art of West Coast Bartending.” The book has been nominated for Best Cocktail Book of the Year by Tales of the Cocktail. During the event, local bartenders were challenged to make Munat’s cocktails with a T-town twist.

One of Tacoma’s brightest bar owners, 1022 South’s Chris Keil said there seems to be a genuine interest for the consortium in the community and beyond.

“It will help bring products into Tacoma, and gets people to come together and share knowledge,” Keil said. “It’s getting people in one room and meeting each other.”

The consortium’s next meeting will highlight vodka makers and mixers, Buckley said. A date and time haven’t been finalized yet.

Looking toward the future, Buckley expects the consortium will continue to grow, as will Tacoma’s reputation as a great contender in alcohol manufacturing.

“I think Tacoma will become a destination place for people who have a passion for good food and alcohol,” he said. “I want it to be a place that lends itself to that kind of attention. I believe we can do it.”

For more information about TAC, visit www.facebook.com/TacomaAlcoholConsortium.

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