The founders of the Secret Summer Festival hope they’re inspiring a new era of locally sourced cocktails.
The "farm to bar" movement promoted by Andrew Maturana, Tyler Hollinger and Allison Du Val, who are promoting the fifth edition of the Secret Summer Festival at the Foundry in Long Island City this Sunday, is all about using fresh, peak season ingredients in cocktails. The Secret Summer Festival aims to connect New York City farms, big name brands and local consumers.
Both Maturana and Hollinger, who run events companies, felt that there was an opportunity to promote a lifestyle event that encourages sustainability.
“What we saw was the lack of this type of event where there’s a festival meets a showcase for brands,” Hollinger says. “And, more importantly, a whole lifestyle event that supports organic, sustainability, locality, which is farm to bar.”
On Sunday, the Secret Summer Festival will bring glamour to sustainable living with decadent drinks like the Lemon Balm Margarita with Aldez Blanco Organic Tequila, featuring Lani’s Farm lemongrass and Hudson Valley Harvest lemon balm.
“I think sourcing local, amazing products and produce is kind of intimidating for people because it’s not as accessible as what you would find at any grocery store,” Maturana says. “So making those connections within the context of Secret Summer is something people find special.”
Each of the rooms of The Foundry will be themed with different drinkable delights like the London Essence Ivory Terrace, the Aldez tequila hacienda, or the Aperol Spritz greenhouse. Every brand created their own drinks incorporating the local ingredients and Maturana, who is also a mixologist, says cold infusions, where delicate herbs are left to soak in liquors for around two weeks, will be a common sight at the event.
“It’s about raw, peak season ingredients, vibrant fresh flavors, very fragrant herbs.” Maturana says.
Among the local ingredients featured at the festival will be mint leaf from Windfall Farm, honey syrup from Brooklyn Grange, rosemary from Hudson Valley Harvest, and strawberries from Lucky Dog Farm. Nicole Baum from Gotham Greens, which will be providing Genovese basil, underscored the benefit of buying herbs like basil locally.
“Basil is one of those things that you’re not really supposed to put in the fridge and it has a relatively short shelf life compared to things like cilantro,” Baum says. “So the fact that the majority of basil is coming from Mexico or Israel means that there’s so much food waste associated with it and it’s not as fresh or delicious by the time it arrives in New York City.”
The founders of Secret Summer say that the farm to bar movement has cultivated a loyal following. Returning guests make up a large portion of the festival attendees.
“Farm to bar is a fresh take on supporting locality to an even deeper level,” Maturana says. “I think that’s why it resonates so well, it represents more than just cocktails, it’s the representation of a quality-driven lifestyle.”
And the farm to bar movement won’t stop here. In November, the Secret Summer founders will open a new cocktail cafe called FESTIVÁL at 61st Street and Second Avenue. During the day, the cafe will serve up coffees and act as a venue for lectures from local farmers to showcase their products, which will be used in feature cocktails when the cafe switches over to a bar for the evening.
IF YOU GO: The Secret Summer Festival will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Foundry in Long Island City. General admission tickets are $125 and include unlimited cocktails. Click here to purchase tickets.