First annual Clovis Cocktail Contest is underway

The Clovis Cocktail Contest is just around the corner, and local bartenders are busy crafting new and exciting recipes to share with Clovis patrons who will be able to vote for their favorite drinks.

The contest, which runs through Sept. 22, will feature three categories: People’s Choice, Judges’ Choice and the 86’d.

Voting for the People’s Choice contest continues until Sept. 22; the Judges’ Choice competition will take place on Sept. 22; and the 86’d will take place on Sept. 21. Winners will be announced once all judging is completed.

Registration fees coming from and donations raised by participating bars and restaurants will benefit the new Clovis Senior Activity Center.

To vote for the People’s Choice competition, participants must print out a Clovis Cocktail Contest passport, or claim a passport at a participating bar. The passports will be stamped at each bar they visit and then submitted once complete. There will be a space inside the passport where participants will write their favorite cocktail.

The Judges Choice contest will be held at Old Town’s Bobby Salazar’s on Sept. 22. Participants will mix their signature cocktails in front of a panel of five judges who will judge the creations.

Bobby Salazar’s owner Denise Dominguez said she is excited to host the Judges’ Choice Competition.

“I’m looking forward to a huge crowd and a great time and for all the bars to come together,” Dominguez said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

But fun isn’t the only thing on Dominguez’s mind. She is crafting her cocktail with the spirit of competition in mind and wants her drink to be as attractive as it is tasty.

“It’s everything. You’ve got to have creativity, it’s got to look good and taste good,” Dominguez said. “I’m really competitive. I’m looking to win, or at least runners-up.”

The 86’d competition brings a twist to the competition. In a similar format to the Food Network’s “Chopped,” competing bartenders will be presented with surprise ingredients to be used to create an on-the-spot cocktail using those ingredients. This event will take place at Michelangelo’s on Sept. 21.

Diego Rosales, bar manager at Michelangelo’s, is a previous winner of the Judges’ Choice at the Centennial Cocktail Competition in 2012 for his cocktail, the Pollasky Popper. Rosales said that he is excited for what the competition can do for the Clovis cocktail community.

“It’s all about sharing ideas and bringing the cocktail community up in our city, sharing ideas to give customers the best possible drink,” Rosales said. “It will be good for the community. We don’t want people to say, ‘Let’s go to Michelangelo’s, they have the best drinks.’ We want them to say, ‘Let’s go to Clovis, because every place in Clovis has good drinks.’”

Although Rosales is the current reigning Judges’ Choice champ, he said he will be passing the torch to one of his bartenders this year, Mike Hunsaker who plans to showcase his own specialty drink.

“I wanted to give my other bartender a chance this time,” Rosales said. “He’s really big into Tiki drinks. He wants to do a Tiki drink for the competition because a lot of people aren’t aware of what Tiki drinks really are.”

Winners of the competition will receive: bragging rights for the year; special recognition in Clovis Roundup’s print, digital, e-newsletter and social media; a customized trophy; a custom banner; t-shirts for winners; the opportunity to host the 2020 Clovis Cocktail Contest; a silver star at the new Clovis Senior Activity Center; and additional promotion throughout the year.

Along with the competition, participating bars and restaurants will have the opportunity to purchase a three-month advertising campaign for only $125 per issue. This advertising campaign will include: a feature in Clovis Roundup’s promo video; promotional t-shirts; ads in print, digital, e-newsletter and social media; a cocktail prep video; and the opportunity to host next year’s judging event contest.

Seth Casey is an aspiring journalist, an avid sports fan and a Fresno/Clovis native. He currently attends Fresno State, where he is pursuing a degree in Media, Communication and Journalism with an emphasis in print journalism. He is excited for the opportunity to work at the Clovis Roundup and looks forward to serving the Clovis community and its residents by showcasing all the city has to offer.