There were colorful cocktails aplenty at the Colusa County Fair’s first ever bartending competition on Saturday, but team Frank’s Kids (composed of Abel Godoy and Corey Bell) were named the best bartenders by a panel of local judges.
Godoy and Bell, who both bartend at Frank Rogers-owned establishments in Colusa, wowed the four judges – Cody Beckley, Sharon Reische, Elvira Gutierrez and Geoff MacPherson – with the majority of their five cocktails. In particular, the judges were impressed by the pair’s entry for Bartender’s Specialty Cocktail: the mother of all Bloody Mary’s, that was garnished with – of all things – a Kentucky Fried Chicken wing.
Two other teams competed in the contest, including the tandem of Twila Garcia and Brandy Lee Havens, who were there as representatives of Rocco’s Bar & Grill, and the team of Sheryl Goodman, Kerry Wells and Consuelo Lopez.
The final group was a late entry after another group dropped out just before the contest began. Goodman, Wells and Lopez were the the only non-mixologists in the competition and had planned on enjoying the event as spectators, but when organizer Sara Rogers needed someone to fill in, the three women stepped up to the plate.
“Sara said she needed one more team and asked if we could do it. I got blindsided,” Goodman said. “But it was a blast.”
Goodman’s team finished third, and the team from Rocco’s took second.
Each competing team was given 30 minutes to prepare five drinks for the panel of judges: a classic cocktail, an exotic cocktail, a bartender’s specialty cocktail, a shooter, and a frozen cocktail. Teams were also provided with a mystery box that included two secret ingredients – piloncillo and cinnamon sticks – which they had to incorporate into at least three of their drinks. While the results were mixed – no pun intended – the judges mostly enjoyed what they tasted.
“A lot of the drinks were really good, and a few of them were so bad you didn’t want to drink them,” judge Geoff MacPherson said.
While attendance waxed and waned throughout the competition, dozens of fairgoers stopped by to watch the competition. About 20 people were present for the entire contest, many of them friends of the competitors or patrons of the establishments where they work.
While the results were being tabulated, organizer Sara Rogers surveyed the crowd and asked what they thought of the competition. The responses were all positive, including that of Tom Reische.
“I think this is a fantastic event,” Reische said.
He added one caveat: It’d be nice if the crowd could get more involved in the competition.
Colusa County Fair CEO Jonathan Howard said that the event showed some good potential.
“For it being the first year, I thought it went pretty well,” Howard said. ■