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Carnival style celebration returns for the second year

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The Crescent Bar won the Hammond Regional Arts Center's last "Art of the Cocktail" competition last year. Courtesy of Phillip Colwart

In anticipation of the Hammond Regional Arts Center’s second “Art of the Cocktail” event, HRAC Media Coordinator Tara Bennett admitted why the event is returning.

“The response from last year’s event was overwhelming,” said Bennett. “It was such a success. It was by far our biggest fundraiser.”

On Jan. 26, the carnival style celebration will feature eccentric performers and a contest that honors a different type of art form for HRAC: mixology.

Returning competitors Crescent Bar, Blackened Brew, Cate Street Seafood Station, Mariner’s Inn, The Red White & Brew, Tope La, Your Mom’s Restaurant & Bar and Benny’s Place, will accompany new additions Salty Joe's BBQ Shop and Mojitos Bistro, two of Hammond’s newest restaurants. The Crescent Bar won the 2017 “Art of the Cocktail” competition with their drink, King Cake Martini.

Although the overall structure of the event will remain the same, attendees can expect changes in the drinks served during the competition, more space to mingle and additions to entertainment.

“The majority of last year’s businesses have decided to return,” said Bennett. “Last year's event was a fun and engaging way for them to test their skills, and they’re all aiming for the top this year.”

Bennett explained, “We're also expanding the space of the event to include an outside patio area with live music by Ben Bell and the Stardust Floor. We will also have new live entertainment performed by LED hula hoopers from Carl Mack Presents. Bringing Miss Kookie Baker back was not a hard decision to make as her popularity with the crowd was immense. And with the event being so close to Mardi Gras, we wanted to bring more of that spirit with the presence of the LED hula hoopers. This event is the perfect Carnival pre-game.”

Bennett explained what influenced HRAC’s decision to make use of more space during the event.

“One of the concerns people had was how crowded space became,” said Bennett. “So, we addressed how best to fix that by spreading out the bartending tables more and also creating the back patio to serve as a much more low key spot, almost like a pressure valve.”

Tickets will be sold until Wednesday, Jan. 24 and will not be sold at the door. HRAC’s website states that tickets can be purchased by HRAC members for $40 and non-HRAC members for $45.

Purchases can be made during the gallery’s regular hours of noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday by phone at 985-542-7113, or online at with a credit card or Pay Pal account.

Anyone ages 21 or older can attend “Art of the Cocktail” and should prepare to present a valid ID at the door. According to Bennett, the price of tickets remains the same for those who do not wish to drink, or act as designated drivers. She recommends utilizing Uber or Lyft in order to enjoy the event while also drinking responsibly.

Bennett explained that by attending an event like “Art of the Cocktail,” the public has the opportunity to experience the ambiance of member only events while experiencing the only HRAC event that features a competition.

“With our other significant fundraisers, we put the focus on a type of art form many wouldn’t have considered before just like with our Culinary Arts Series or Brews Arts Festival,” said Bennett. “We want to celebrate the artistry of local bartenders and mixologists while supporting the HRAC's mission for Hammond's creative community.

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