by Nila Do Simon | September 26, 2023

Discover the Artistry of Alys Beach Crafted

Toast to this 30A oasis overflowing with bespoke brews, artisanal cocktails and coastal craftsmanship

30A's second annual Alys Beach Crafted is Oct. 25–28. Photography courtesy of Alys Beach.

Some say the art is in their hands, others say their hands are an extension of their souls. Either way, when Alys Beach Crafted returns for its second year on Oct. 25–28, the dozens of invited craftspeople, culinary creators and beverage professionals arriving from all over the South are guaranteed to light the beachside town on fire. 

A celebration of the creative process—and the creators themselves—Alys Beach Crafted is a four-day festival dedicated to the stories behind special shared indulgences like crafted beverages, epicurean delights, artistry and workmanship. The schedule of events is packed with seminars led by pioneering mixologists and workshops with boundary-pushing artists, creating an air of ingenuity and inspiration in this close-knit community on Highway 30A.

Crafted kicks off on Oct. 25 with Campfire Stories—which honors written and spoken words while gathered around a smoldering outdoor fire pit—igniting a creative energy over the long weekend, kindling textured conversations and new friendships. In partnership with Emerald Coast Storytellers, Campfire Stories will feature local writers and Crafted participants sharing stories centered around the theme for the evening, Liquid Courage.

The event originated from the Firkin Fête, a gathering of local and regional breweries. Photography by Ti Adoro Studios.

One of the greatest displays of togetherness takes place on Friday evening, at Firkin Fête. Considered the event that launched the inaugural Alys Beach Crafted, Firkin Fête debuted in 2019 as a standalone tasting experience dedicated to craft beer, and it is now integrated into Crafted. Not much else has changed over the years, including the celebratory tap of the firkins, or 11-gallon kegs, that’s enjoyed alongside live entertainment and culinary creations. Adding to the mystique of the event are the surprise flavors found within each keg, a profile that’s even a secret to the brewers until the kegs have been tapped.

The public will have a chance to meet select artisans over two days of Makers Market at the Amphitheatre, where they will have their handcrafted works on display and available for purchase. Out of the nearly 25 artists who submitted applications for Makers Market, only about 10 were chosen to take part in the prestigious event. The main criteria? Artisanal works that will appeal to buyers who are looking to add stories to their homes, like paintings, jewelry and apparel. Attendees are invited to strike up conversations with each vendor to learn more about their process, which oftentimes is an inheritance craft, passed down through the generations. The free event will also include live entertainment, plus refreshments and treats for purchase.

In addition to the possibility of taking home a bespoke ware, attendees can bring back nuanced knowledge of the spirits and wines served at the festival’s expert-led seminars. The interactive workshops include varied topics, such as the Story of Agave, told against Papilio Park’s swaying olive trees; and a how-to cocktail creation seminar with Miles Macquarrie and Neal Bodenheimer, whose respective bars have both been recognized as James Beard Award nominations. Hear from more distillers and cocktail creators at the Spirited Soirée, a gathering of mixologists from across the nation discussing the process and offering tastings of their drinks, both neat and in custom craft cocktails, on Saturday night. 

Witness the creation of your favorite cocktails at Crafted. Photography courtesy of Alys Beach.

In addition to names like Macquarrie and Bodenheimer, Crafted will feature a list of participants who are leaders in their fields. Names like José Medina Camacho, a James Beard Foundation recognized drink director, who runs a successful bar program at his Birmingham Mexican bar, Adios; and Sarah Pierre, whose Atlanta wine shop, 3 Parks Wine Shop, has been featured in Wine Enthusiast magazine. Participating brewer Tyler White of Grayton Beer Company in nearby Santa Rosa Beach even graduated from the Master Brewer program in Munich, Germany. 

For the creators of Crafted, it’s the people who truly make the event special. “Crafted is about the collaboration between makers and cooperative experience between chefs, brewers, distilleries, artisans, artists and craftsmen,” says Alexis Miller, Alys Beach’s director of events. “They all feed off each other, and that’s why this event is so exciting.”

Meet master mixologists at the Spirited Soirée and learn how their signature drinks came to be. Photography courtesy of Alys Beach.

With 14 events taking place over a span of four days, the Alys Beach team is continuing the magic generated from last year’s debut festival. “Our first event was so special that Keyatta Mincey Parker of Sip of Paradise Garden said she’s coming back again this year—whether she’s invited back or not!” says Miller (spoiler alert: she and the bartender’s nonprofit community garden are returning as participants in 2023). 

Adding to the special feel that Crafted emanates is its dedication to donating all event proceeds to the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. The local nonprofit has been considered the creative core of the community for the past 30 years, supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy, funding, programming and education. We’ll cheers to that.