While January annually brings cold weather, it also avails New Yorkers a great and singular opportunity to indulge in the kind of pleasures one normally associates with the long days, warm and sunny weather, and open-air celebrations of summertime – namely, the feast presented by the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ event, slated for January 30th. Once again taking place at the Tunnel, at 608 West 28th Street, the Manhattan installment – the 7th annual – of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ is the opening event in a multi-city tour; future stagings are set for February 27 in Tampa, Florida, April 1 & 2 in Timonium, Maryland, May 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21 in Atlanta, Georgia, June 11 in Richmond, Virginia, June 17 & 18 in National Harbor, Maryland, August 5 & 6 in Cary, North Carolina, August 20 in Virginia Beach, Virginia and September 17 in Leesburg, Virginia. Named by Fest Forward the ‘Best of the Fests’ 2015 Award Winner, it is indeed a welcome gustatory escape from the rigors of winter.

Having attended in prior years, one thing I’ve noted is that the crowd is generally somewhat more relaxed in demeanor than that which one may encounter in New York, with a goodly number of attendees journeying in from outside the city proper; having spent the first 18 years of my life in Ohio, I would say that the gathering feels much more like the rest of the country than the kind of hyper environment of our urban domain. As with previous years, there are three sessions from which to choose: Session 1 – The Bacon Bash Tasting Session, which runs from 12:00 noon to 4:00pm; Session 2 – The Whole Hog Pig Pickin’ Session, which goes from 5:30-9:30; and Session 3 – The Grand Poobah MEAT-A-RAMA Session, which runs the whole day, from 12:00 noon to 9:30pm. The food purveyors always include a combination of local restaurants and caterers along with some folks from down the eastern seaboard; as of the time of this writing confirmed participants include Daisy Mae’s BBQ USA, the Tri Tip Grill, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Virgil’s Real Barbecue, Certé, Kloby’s Smokehouse, Handsome Devil, Matchless, Tres Carnes Texas Smoked Mexican Fare and Butcher Bar Carvery Smokehouse.

Of course, in addition to “putting the BIG APPLE in the Mouth of the Pig” at “the beginning of the A-PORK-ALYPSE!” (as the website says), there will be approximately 60 Beers and 40 Bourbons on offer to wash it all down with, with a bluegrass band set up at the far end of the space to lend a festive mood and a DJ spinning tunes when the band takes breaks. Each of the three sessions includes a souvenir glass for tastings (the first 200 guests in line for each session receive a free collectible bag to celebrate the show), food tastings from invited pit masters and chefs and some of New York’s finest BBQ and southern cuisine restaurants, and seminars in the Tasting Theater with Master Distillers, Brewmasters, and Pit Masters from the deep South. Pulled pork from a whole hog will be available at each session, and for those inclined to test the dimensions of their appetite, there will be a bacon eating contest at both morning and afternoon sessions. In addition to all this, guests are invited to purchase more of their BBQ favorites – pulled pork, ribs, briskets and any fixin’ you could imagine – to take away, and there will also be hot sauces, BBQ accessories and other related items available.

Tickets are limited to 1000 guests for each session and, as all sessions are expected to sell out, it’s advisable to act ASAP to get yours. Prices – $109 for Session 1, $99 for Session 2, and $199 for Session 3 (limited to only 75 individuals, who will be able to enjoy a special tasting soiree and a Master Tasting Class, complete with a sampling of old and rare bourbons) – have remained the same as in previous years. Advance ticket sales close Wednesday, January 27th at 5pm, or sooner if tickets sells out before this date. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Spirit of Hope Children’s Foundation. For more information, check the website at