Biannual cocktail contest shows what Park City has to offer
March 30, 2012
In 2004, the Park City Area Restaurant Association decided to show it is possible to get a drink in Utah and organized the first Cocktail Contest.
Throughout the years, the competition has grown to the point where last season, the association decided to hold it biannually, said Ginger Ries, executive director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association.
"The reason we decided to do that was because what you drink in the winter isn’t the same thing you drink on a nice hot day outside on your deck," Ries told The Park Record. "We also thought it would be nice to showcase the mixology talents of our local bartenders more than just one time a year."
The Park City Area Restaurant Association’s 2012 Spring Cocktail Contest, which will choose the town’s signature drink for the summer, will be held Wednesday, April 4, at Cisero’s, 306 Main St.
"We’ll all converge on the downstairs Good Times Bar for the event," Ries said. "We try to move the event to different venues around town to showcase the various offerings the entire community has. Last fall’s contest was at Red Rock Junction at Redstone, and now we’re coming back to Main Street."
This year, there will be 11 participating bartenders. (See accompanying list ‘Confirmed entrants for the 2012 Park City Area Restaurant Association Cocktail Contest’ for competitors).
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"They all take it very seriously and have a whole month to work out their concoctions," Ries said. "It’s an art form to them, because there are a lot of things that go into making a cocktail – the flavors, the garnishings. It’s not as easy as it looks, and they use that time to fine tune what they are doing."
Once the competitors submit their recipes, the association reviews them and purchases all the ingredients to have them onsite during the contest.
"Also, the host-venue bartenders must know how to mix all the drinks so they can provide samples the people to attend the event," Ries said. "That way, the public can taste what the judges are tasting.
"It looks like we’ll have a delicious array of various cocktails to sample this year," she said. "It’s gearing up to be a fun competition."
The winner will get a $100 cash prize, a trophy and have the drink featured in all the Park City Area Association Restaurants.
"We also put the recipe online at http://www.parkcityrestaurants.com so people can mix their own when they feel like having one to throw back at home," Ries said.
As with the contests in the past, this year’s event will benefit the Park City People’s Health Clinic.
"There is a $10 cash entry fee that will be collected at the door and the proceeds go to the clinic," Reis said. "The contest is a great way for the local restaurants to give to an organization that takes great care of some of their employees.
"Some of the employees are seasonal and don’t have health insurance and others just can’t afford it," she explained. "So the Park City People’s Health Clinic provides the services they need to stay healthy. It is a huge asset to the community and given the restaurants have a need for different kinds of employees throughout the year, our event is a great way to say thank you to the clinic and to ensure the employees stay in our community."
On another level, the competition emphasizes local camaraderie, Ries said.
"It is fun to see all the different bartenders, who know each other, see what each other is doing," she said.
Some of these bartenders have been working in Park City for years.
"We give them some time to talk about themselves and tell the attendees who they are," she said. "Some have even worked at the same establishment forever, and that’s neat to see. The thing I like is regardless of where the bartenders work, the contest brings them together in a fun, good-spirited competition.
"Especially with the crazy things we hear with the different legislations that are happening, I think the contest helps to remind everyone that you still can enjoy a beverage in Park City."
In addition to providing a fun competition, the association wants all who attend to have a safe time as well.
That’s why it is teaming with Treasure Mountain Inn.
"The inn, which is located across the street from Cisero’s, is not only providing rooms for our judges, but is also offering lodging specials in conjunction to the event to ensure the people who attend the contest are safe," Ries said. "If folks want to overindulge and sample a lot of drinks, they can safely get back to the hotel across the street."
During the three years Ries has attended the contest, she has learned that looks of a mix can be deceiving.
The winner of last fall’s event, the Pommard, mixed by Sky Blue bartender Cody Childers and featured Calvados brandy, cinnamon-cardamom syrup, lemon juice and apple cider, didn’t look very appealing to Ries.
"Once I tasted it, I found it to be so delicious," she said.
The Park City Area Restaurant Association’s 2012 Spring Cocktail Contest will be held Wednesday, April 4, at Cisero’s, 306 Main St., from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10, and all attendees must be aged 21 and older. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityrestaurants.com.