Gin-guzzlers gathered at the historic Riviera Theatre on King Street Thursday night for a collaboration between Bombay Sapphire and GQ Magazine. Some guests — myself included — were no doubt a little surprised that the event, called “The Nation’s Most Inspired Bartender Search,” was not in fact a mix-off or competition of any kind. That happened earlier in the day, with judges sampling creations from bartenders across the city.
Perhaps it was this confusion that led to one of the rudest crowds I’ve seen at recent events. Or maybe it had more to do with gin’s reputation for bringing out the worst in people.
As the crowd trickled in, they took full advantage of the bars serving up a small selection of classic Bombay cocktails. Things went quite smoothly until the main event of the night, when “master mixologist” Milo Rodriguez took the stage. The size of the room and the sold-out crowd were definitely not in the speaker’s favor, but the crowd’s blatant disregard for repeated requests for silence was downright embarrassing. Milo tried to plow through, giving some background on the Collins, and demonstrating how to make it. After a short break, he announced the runners-up and winner of the challenge. Shannon Hutchines of the Harbour Club came in at third, Andy Bates of Red Drum Gastropub was second, and winner Patrick Emerson of High Cotton will take his cocktail to Las Vegas and appear in GQ Magazine’s Man of the Year issue.
Although some were disappointed, most people seemed to enjoy themselves, and the bottom line is that the event attracted a big crowd, raising $2,500 for Charleston Chefs Feed the Need (a little less than initial reports, but impressive nonetheless). Mix-off or no, rude or friendly, proceeds from the event will provide hundreds of meals to hungry people across the Lowcountry. And I’ll cheers to that.
If you'd still like to make a donation to benefit Feed the Need, you can follow this link.