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New documentary series connects cocktails to past surrounding period from 1920-'33

Happy Hour History, a documentary series that is using interest in cocktails as a vehicle for teaching history, will premier its first two episodes on Saturday, Aug. 3, at Trail Distilling in Oregon City.

COURTESY PHOTO - In this still from the Happy Hour History documentary, filmmaker David Mayne tries out a cocktail made by Kansas City bartender Jill Cockson.Portland filmmaker David Mayne said that Happy Hour History episodes celebrate women's history by showing how the early women's rights movement brought about Prohibition and 13 years later helped to repeal it. He has brought together bartenders, historians and film artists to create the documentary series highlighting intimate connections between alcoholic beverages and major events in human history.  

Mayne said he chose Trail Distilling as the venue for the screening to highlight the work of "amazing local craft distillers," especially in a "beautiful," less-urban setting. Trail Distiller co-owner Sara Brennan said she's aware of women's history in distilling and the important impact that women are still having on the spirits industry as a whole. 

"Trail Distilling is the perfect fit historically for David's screenings of Happy Hour History," she said. "Oregon City is the first city west of the Mississippi that was settled and is the end of the Oregon Trail. Our distillery, Trail Distilling, is the first distillery in the first city since prohibition."

Happy Hour History explores the roots behind familiar classic cocktails such as the Moscow Mule and the Sidecar, connected to the two catastrophic world wars. Prohibition Era cocktails the Bees Knees and the Scofflaw helped frame the movement for women's rights.

Including Monty Python-inspired animations and historical recreations, each Happy Hour History episode is framed with a cocktail, which is traced back to a historical event that changed the world. After the brief history lesson, bartenders from around the country teach viewers how to make that classic cocktail at home.

"We have fun with history using recreations and wacky animations, but all our stories are verified by university historians. This is not fake history," Mayne said. "It's vital we present our history from diverse, multicultural viewpoints so we can learn from our mistakes in the past and hopefully not repeat them."

Mayne and his team created a pilot episode and then launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to fund the rest of the first season. Now that four episodes are complete, he is embarking on a series of screening parties around the country.

COURTESY PHOTO - Wearing a vintage suit and flapper costumes, Liza Stillhard and Katie Michels join filmmaker David Mayne in a speakeasy try out cocktails during the Happy Hour History documentary.A filmmaker for the past three decades, Mayne has written and directed nationally distributed commercials and documentaries, including episodes of the PBS History Detectives series. A longtime fan of both cocktail and a self-described "history nerd," he said that Happy Hour History was born through a happy accident, when while imbibing, he discovered some amazing connections between booze and major events in human history.

Mayne passionately believes in the power of film to make the world a smarter, funnier and better place. He said that Happy Hour History's commitment to inclusiveness is reflected by the fact that at least half the bartenders in the series will be women.

"I've combined my background of working on documentaries and commercials to mix what I hope will be the perfect cocktail of a web series," he said.

Women Who Whiskey make history

What: In partnership with the Women Who Whiskey social club, Happy Hour History will premier its first two episodes

When: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. distillery tour and a 7:30 p.m. screening Saturday, Aug. 3

Where: Trail Distilling, 21553 Highway 213, Oregon City

Tickets: Admission is $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Guests will receive a classic cocktail and a tasting tour of Trail Distilling. Advance tickets are available at conta.cc/2SGDvB1

MORE: Teaser trailers for the episodes to be screened can be found at vimeo.com/253091016 and vimeo.com/327202263.


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