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The Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show continues to reign as the largest annual bar and nightlife convention and its 33rd annual 2018 show brought together over 30,000 owners, operators, industry professionals and suppliers to the Las Vegas Convention Center March 26–28. 

One of the highlights of the Show is always the trade show, and as usual there was barely walking room to move down the aisles amid a myriad of remarkable products to check out. Following are some that caught my interest.

Local representation was found at the booth of Las Vegas-based Nevada H&C Distilling Company, which in its short history has already racked up several awards at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits competition. At the booth co-owner Aaron Chepenik was pouring the H&C Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which secured a very impressive Double Gold at the 2017 World Spirits competition. This outstanding, smooth spirit is now being served at resorts on the Strip such as Aria, Bellagio and NY-NY and is available at Total Wine.

Probably the last thing I would have thought to use as a mixer is pickle juice. But I happened to be sampling a whiskey as I walked past the booth of Van Holten’s Pickleback Mixer, made from real pickle brine, and was invited to try a sip after swallowing my whiskey, which I did and have to report it actually works. Other recommended uses are to put a splash in your beer or to boost your bloody Mary. Of course, you have to like the taste of pickles and the juice it comes in. I’ve discovered that, like Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya (okay, I’m really dating myself with that reference), and as the product’s marketing proclaims: it’s “Dill-icious.” 

We always associate tequila with Mexico, but how about whiskey? The Sierra Norte Single Barrel Whiskey hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, which is thought to be the origin/birthplace of corn dating back to over 7,000 years ago. The whiskey is made from 85% native corn and 15% barley mash and double distilled in Pot stills. Of note is the company is dedicated to preserving heirloom corns and is attempting to bring red and green corns back from extinction. The single-barrel whiskey is made from yellow, white and black corns sourced from single-village, small-family farms and aged in French oak casks.

Coffee lovers will appreciate the Café Agave Spiked Cold Brew Coffee, which is conveniently packaged in 187 ml cans, weighs in at 12.5% ABV and comes in flavors including Caffe Mocha, Vanilla Cinnamon, Salted Caramel and Espresso Shot, all of which are delicious. 

The Temecula, CA-based Garage Brewing Co can always be counted on to bring beers with uncommon beer ingredients and they didn’t disappoint us this year. On the table for our enjoyment were Chocolate Orange Milk Stout, Tropical IPA (with grapefruit, pineapple and passionfruit) and Apple Pie Pale Ale (with apple juice and spices). 

An age-old problem for restaurateurs and wine connoisseurs is wine quickly losing its freshness after being opened. To the rescue is the VinEdge wine preserver, which uses an automatic vacuum seal that reduces oxidation and preserves the taste of wine up to 14 days. The directions are simple: attach the provided pour spout to a disposable VinSert tube, slide firmly into the bottle and serve. As the wine is poured, the tube inflates in the bottle, creating a vacuum and reducing the amount of air that touches the wine. Once the entire bottle has been enjoyed, the spout is removed, leaving the detachable tube in the bottle for easy cleanup. By preventing wine being disposed of after spoilage, the device will easily pay for itself.

Time now to mark your calendar for the 34th annual convention, which will return to Las Vegas March 25–27, 2019 and offer thousands of products spanning all facets of the industry: bar equipment, spirits, craft beer, alcohol-free beverages and mixers, furnishings, technology, food, venue equipment, glassware, décor, menu designs, social media, apparel, lighting and more; and a series of educational workshops, keynote sessions, certifications, off-site trainings and networking events. For updates throughout the year, visit