When you break it all down, a Bloody Mary is two simple ingredients. Spicy tomato juice and vodka blend together to create something that is better than the ingredients are on their own. We were looking forward to celebrating our first year developing radical new solutions to the problems our clients are facing. Sometimes ones they did not know they had yet. Our friends at the Aids Resource Center of Ohio (ARC Ohio for short) were also looking to plan a little celebration. Because of the extensive and important work ARC Ohio does all across the state, they are always experimenting with new fundraisers, new ways to engage the community in the education and fight against AIDS. When you mix their desire to experiment with a new fundraiser and a group of people looking to celebrate a major business milestone, you come up with another incredible blend. Thus the Bloody Mary Showdown was born.
Fifteen tables were set up for bars and individuals to create and display their Bloody Marys, using American Harvest vodka, tomato juice, and all of the special, secret ingredients they could pack into a glass. It was not just the ingredients that were on display: people talked about the garnishes as much as they did the cocktails. Mack’s Tavern offered a burger with their BBQ Burger Mary. Club Masque had two entries into the showdown; one had a brilliant display, complete with a vegetable puppet and fog, the other offering a mini breakfast for you with your Bloody Mary. Tuty’s also offered a small meal with their Bloody Mary, including pretzels, shrimp, olives, and a side of vegetables.
The Oregon District showed up in force for the competition. Lucky’s Taproom was there showing off the Bloody Mary they have become well known for in the Miami Valley. Salar was there with a unique twist on the Bloody Mary (as we would expect from Salar). Lily’s Bistro brought freshness right from their garden to the glass with their easy drinking cocktail. They were not the only fresh offerings out of the Oregon District; the Trolley Stop pressed their own tomato juice blend, complete with a two cheese stuffed olive. Blind Bob’s shook it up at their station, and the Tumbleweed Connection was rolling up some tasty cocktails for the thirsty patrons passing by.
One of the great aspects of this showdown was the ability to check out some offerings from places you may not normally experience on a slightly hung over weekend morning. McGillicutty’s Pub offered a Sunday Vacation in its brunch cocktail, and set it next to a fancy palm tree. The ladies running AleFest gave the vodka the day off and added some smoked porter goodness from Warped Wing. Kohler Catering was on hand to provide a memorable experience with their super spicy version of the Bloody Mary. There was plenty of flair in and out of the glass with the World Bar-B-Que Bloody BLT. Finally, a fiery wakeup call was assembled in the Morning Glory, provided by Smart Guy In A Tie Cocktails. And what are Bloody Marys without brunch? Chef Matt Hayden and the talented crew at Scratch Event Catering provided some amazing food to sample, providing some relief from the heat of the cocktails and a meal over which discussions of who made the best Bloody Mary would happen.
This was a showdown; only one bartender was going to come out on top. Lucky’s Taproom put the Oregon District into a third place finish. Tim at McGillicutty’s Pub may have been on vacation, but his Bloody Mary was doing some hard work, earning the nod at second place. First place went to a newcomer on the scene. Not the bartender; MacKenzie Manley has done her time behind the bars of a few fine Dayton establishments. She will be opening Mack’s Tavern soon, and then you can enjoy more BBQ Burger Bloody Marys on gorgeous Sunday mornings.
The bigger winner was the community. ARC Ohio was able to raise not only money, but awareness about AIDS and what we can do to help stem the spread of the disease. It is a great way for us to finish off what has been an incredible first year in business. The businesses and charities we have partnered with have blended well with our culture and created results that enhanced both parties. We are excited to see what year two will bring, and what Bloody Marys we’ll be able to enjoy next year!