Kitchen in Season caught up with Best Beverage Catering’s Shane McKnight as he was preparing for the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco
KIS Let us start with the basics! What is your position with Best Beverage Catering?
SM I came on as the Director of Mixology in 2010 and started a large scale division of Farm-to-Keg, Craft on Draft and handcrafted cocktail offerings for the smallest most intimate private events for 50 people on up to Coachella, Outside Lands, Nightlife at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Super Bowl, upscale music venues all over the country and various marketing events supporting our cherished liquor industry partners.
KIS Outside Lands is coming up this weekend, what will you be doing to prepare for such a large event?
SM Today we are brewing 600 gallons of MIXI’S “LIVE” HANDCRAFTED GINGER BEER to fuel our most popular TITO’S “LIVE” HANDMADE MULE. We also just finished infusing 30 gallons of Kaffir Lime cane syrup with lime leaves. This afternoon, I will be testing the status of large batch of my house-made Root Beer Bitters.
KIS You specialize in a “Craft on Draft” system, can you give us some insight into the system?
SM The 5-gal Cornelius keg is the perfect chill-able, sealed vacuum to keep batched farm fresh cocktails fresher than any other container. We pressurize everything with CO2 or NO2 to remove all oxygenation which keeps our batches even fresher. Our mobile draft systems are super attractive and visible to guests and thanks to our liquor partners, most of the cocktails have a customized tap handle that helps the guest identify the cocktail just as they would recognize a craft beer. My favorite advantages of these systems is consistency, power to force carbonate anything, and the ability to contain super high pressure “LIVE” fermentations that are constantly expanding. Let me add one thing, and let’s be honest…nobody likes waiting on their feet for a cocktail for 20 minutes in line. We like to help our guests aquire a perfectly fresh and balanced craft cocktail and move on to their next objective as quickly as possible. We offer plenty of other styles of craft cocktail services in which we handcraft each cocktail in a more intimate environment where people aren’t waiting on their feet.
KIS With all of the interest in ‘mixology’ and small batch, craft spirits; where does your ‘Farm-to-Keg’ philosophy fit into this trend?
SM My favorite recent evolution at our larger festival projects is the growing recognition and respect for the Craft on Draft Cocktail offerings. Now that people recognize it, they prefer it to any other style of service, and they are quick to tell us and give us a high five. People are VERY excited to be exposed to better cocktails through a more approachable frequency. My favorite new projects involve adding 1 or 2 “LIVE” draft cocktails like MIXI’S “LIVE” MULE & ETERNAL SUNSHINE TONIC at many of our music and indoor bar venues to compliment the other offerings.
KIS What draft cocktails did you offer last year?
SM OH MY GOD…they were amazing! We offered the following last year:
TITO’s “LIVE” MULE
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, “Live” Ginger Beer, Lime & Saffron Bitters.
Pour directly over ice and garnish with sliced lime & saffron bitters
FRONT PORCH PEACH TEA
Ole Smoky Peach Moonshine, Sweet Tea & Fresh Lemonade.
Pour directly over ice & finish with mint sprig & sliced peach
Jameson Irish Whiskey, “Live” Ginger Beer, Lime & Peychaud’s Bitters.
Pour directly over ice & finish with mint & Peychaud’s bitters
Bulleit Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Orange Honey, Amaro Nonino, Mint. Pour directly over ice & garnish with mint & Saffron Bitters
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Green Chartreuse, Falernum, Cucumber, Lime Juice & a mist of Clandestine Absinthe. Pour directly over ice & garnish with sliced cucumber & mist of Absinthe
Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine & fresh lemonade, rhubarb bitters & mint.
Pour directly over ice & garnish with sliced lemon & mist of rhubarb bitters
KIS Can you give us a teaser of what we can look forward to this year?
SM We have perfected our own house-made Basil & Grapefruit Tonic on draft to make love to Tito’s Handmade Vodka even better than last year….
KIS Finally, where can we find these cool beverages at the festival?
SM We have a large CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in the center of the Polo Fields facing the stage, we have our biggest CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in Lindley Meadows, we have an awesome CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in the woods near CHOCOLANDS and we always feature 3 cocktails in VIP and in the Barbary Coast Tent where the comedians perform.
KIS Thanks Shane!