‘Art of the Cocktail’ returns for second year

Sarah Hess

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The Crescent Bar’s signature “Lion Up” martini is surrounded by university memorabilia. Sarah Hess/The Lion's Roar

The Hammond Regional Arts Center kicked off Mardi Gras season with a themed “Art of the Cocktail” fundraiser. 

The Mardi Gras-themed event held on Friday, Jan. 26 was the second annual cocktail creation competition where 10 local bars and restaurants created some of their signature cocktails. Attendees judged the drinks by placing three Mardi Gras doubloons in mini parade floats on the table with their favorite drink. 

The night included live music, entertainment and included a local, New Orleans drag queen as the master of ceremonies. The band Ben Bell and the Stardust Boys provided entertainment on the back patio that was open to guests this year due to a large number of attendees. A flow artist hooper from the company Carl Mack Presents performed with a light up hula hoop to songs. Miss Kookie Baker is a chef at the catering company Chicken Scratch, LLC. 

Baker gave her thoughts of the evening.

“I love it,” said Baker. “The rain is a little much, but you can’t control the weather. But we had a great turnout. There were even more people than last year, like 80 or 90 more people, which is pretty awesome.” 

Baker also explained how the people from wall-to-wall affected performing some of her lip-sync songs. The classic Dolly Parton song “9 to 5” was her first number of the night. Baker enjoys giving back to other art forms with events like “Art of the Cocktail.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Baker “And I can see just from last year, the changes that they made here. So, that’s amazing, and I love to see the progress.” 

University alumna Gina Mixon used the night as a celebration for a friend.

“It was a friend of ours birthday, and this is what she wanted to do,” said Mixon. “It’s great. It is a lot of fun.” 

At 9 p.m., there was a last call for drinks and voting. The winners of the night received a custom industrial lamp that was made out of a recycled champagne bottle and created by one of the center’s members to go to their bar. The Crescent Bar won first place, Benny’s Place placed second and Tope La received third. Claude Hooks from the Crescent Bar described his first place drink as a Mardi Gras drink with a university twist. 

“It’s called the Lion Up martini,” said Hooks. “It tastes like a lemon meringue pie. It’s a combination of different schnapps, Irish Cream and sour and pineapple. Mix it together, make a martini with some lemon pudding and ground up gram crackers.” 

Hooks explained why he named the drink Lion Up martini.

“We figure to support Southeastern,” said Hooks. “That’s where I graduated from.”

Executive Director of HRAC Maureen Joyce explained how this event is unique compared to other exhibitions and events held at the center. 

“One of the key ingredients is that bartenders are notoriously creative and competitive people,” said Joyce. “So, it’s a wonderful way to celebrate their creativity and that it literally is an art, creating a wonderful cocktail that’s both a visual experience and a tasty experience. They’re taking you on a quality experience that has many levels. So, it’s as if by celebrating one group’s creativity, it gets to support the entire creative community, and to our lives. So, there’s almost a direct correlation between the two, and so, I think people connect with that.”

An event goer enjoys the “Lion Up” martini. Sarah Hess/The Lion's Roar

A performer from the Carl Mack Presents performs in the dim room with an electric hula hoop. Sarah Hess/The Lion's Roar

 

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