LITTLE RIVER, CA, 3/17/23 — Despite the rain, people poured into the Little River Inn’s Abalone Room on Sunday to enjoy the 3rd Annual Battle of the Bloody Marys, where bartenders from near and far riffed on the classic cocktail. Tickets to the sold-out event offered the chance to taste five different Bloody Marys and support MendoParks, an organization spearheading projects and initiatives around our local state parks.
The afternoon was sponsored by Hetchy Vodka, and guests got to take home their tasting glasses adorned with both Hetchy and MendoParks’ logos. Local businesses — Beachcomber Motel, Los Gallitos, Little River Inn, and Mendocino Spirits — donated prizes, from a private tour and tasting at Mendo Spirits Distillery to a free stay and dinner.
The seven “Bloody Bartending Teams” made drinks for both guests and a panel of judges, served in a separate room nearby. Drink Me writer Barbara Barrielle; Sarah Doyle, wine and spirits reporter for the Press Democrat; and beverage columnist Elyse Glickman of Bar & Restaurant and Bar Business Magazine ranked the tomato-based cocktails across three categories.
Mendocino’s MacCallum House took home the award for Best Garnish, finishing the Bloody Mary with pickled sea asparagus harvested minutes away at Big River Beach. Bonded by Blood, the offering of an out-of-town bartender representing San Francisco’s R Bar, won the prize for Best Use of Heat — “any chance to get up to Mendocino,” he quipped. His drink offered smoked jerky and three different hot sauces.
The Frog People, a team formed by the owners of Point Arena’s Izakaya Gama and the Little River Inn’s own bartender, won the award for Most Creative. That team diverged from the traditional tomato juice base and used a green tomatillo mix instead, even offering a carnitas-infused vodka.
But who was the People’s Choice, voted best in show by the guests?
That honor — and $500 — goes to North Coast Brewing Company, the Fort Bragg craft brewery who garnished their cocktail with ginger citrus shrimp, candied bacon, and gouda. Their bartender was excited to be there, and you heard it here first: North Coast doesn’t just offer beer, but great cocktails as well.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.