Mixing It Up at B4 Summit With Sea Island Lead Resort Bartender Nic Wallace

By Helen Benefield Billings

Sea Island Lead Resort Bartender Nic Wallace

IMI Agency’s trailblazing B4 Summit made its much-anticipated return on November 12th at The Cloister Hotel on storied and secluded Sea Island, Georgia.

Attendees from key operator accounts and top brand suppliers as well as major distributors and service companies gathered on this idyllic coastal barrier island for three days of interactive seminars, mixology tastings, a variety of keynote speakers as well as five-star cuisine and accommodations.

Our Master of Ceremonies was once again Jack Maxwell whom many of you remember well from the B4 Summit 2018 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Everyone was also delighted by the surprise appearance of Guy Fieri, host of Triple D on Food Network and Co-Owner of Santo Tequila. Fieri fired up the crowd during the Grocery Grab Challenge on the final afternoon. The creative energy was palpable!

The B4 Summit is all about the on-premise beverage experience and we thought it would be appropriate and fun to share some of the drinks that were served at various events over the course of the conference.

To dig a bit deeper, we reached out to Sea Island Resorts Lead Bartender Nic Wallace and Team who brilliantly handled our beverage and mixology needs with impressive results.

in the Mix:
As lead bartender for The Cloister at Sea Island can you tell us a little about the planning process and strategy you and your team used to prepare for the B4 Summit?

Nic Wallace: In my role as Resort Lead Bartender of Sea Island, my job is to oversee the spirits, cocktails, beer, and non-alcoholic beverage programs for the Resort. I’m responsible for all bars, lounges, and bartenders on property along with their beverage training.

My strategy for this year’s IMI B4 Summit was to create an all-inclusive beverage program focusing on sustainability, forward thinking approaches to cocktails, and a seamless experience for all the groups visitors this year. Every detail of the event was carefully planned on the beverage side so that all vendor partners had an equal share of the spotlight, while maintaining a fluid approach to each presentation.  Pun intended!

ITM: This was not your first time working on our event (B4 was also held at The Cloister in 2015). What was your overall takeaway from your experience of working with the IMI Agency B4 Summit Team?

NW: Tackling large scale beverage events isn’t a new thing for me, the resort, or the amazing team from IMI; but this year was my first time with full creative freedom to build the beverage portions of the events as I saw fit. Working with Jeanette Rolla and Michael Cubbage was a real treat, both were so much fun to work with and had great feedback when concepts were pitched. Working with like-minded people in this industry can be challenging, but thankfully, Jeanette and Michael (accompanied by IMI team members Evan Traub, Lauren Parton, and Gabe Fore) shared my passion for creating a perfect event for everyone. They gave me free reign to build the beverage programming for the Summit as I saw fit, which ultimately made my job a lot easier. Partnering with an amazing team on the IMI side for the B4 Summit this year was an incredible experience, and one that I can’t wait to do again.

ITM: Can you describe the methodical process you went through tying 8 different on property venues to our theme of “Sea the Future”?

NW: When the concept for this year’s B4 Summit was first pitched I was very excited.  It’s rare when corporate groups coming to the resort want to create a resounding theme around their entire program, and it can be a challenge to execute on a luxury scale.  The “Sea the Future” theme was a perfect tie in for Sea Island and the direction our resort beverage program has been shifting to over the last few years.  We’ve developed a forward-thinking cocktail and non-alcoholic program at the resort that is built around shifting guest expectations towards the future of beverage.  From our single-ingredient focused cocktail menus in our outlets, to the eco-friendly partnerships we’ve cultivated over the years, our programs are built with an eye on the future.  From there, it was an easy segue to tying all our existing concepts into the theme for this year’s Summit.  I wanted to create a range of beverage components for the B4 Summit that not only incorporated our own Sea Island themes into the mix but showcase cocktails and offerings that guests have never seen or considered previously.  Blending a bit of the classic cocktail components into the program with modernized approaches in technique and flavor pairings was truly key to the process.

Thank you Nic and IMI Team members, Evan Traub, Lauren Parton, and Gabe Fore, who worked to create the incredible cocktails enjoyed at this year’s B4 Summit, and a sincere thanks to everyone who attended. Your enthusiasm and commitment to hospitality beverage is unmatched and inspiring. Also, major kudos to the IMI B4 planning team for all the hard work and dedication that went into making this groundbreaking industry event the best one yet.