6th annual Bloody Mary Contest mixing it up at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino pool | SierraSun.com
Autumn Whitney
awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com

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6th annual Bloody Mary Contest mixing it up at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino pool

Nothing says summer like poolside parties — and this weekend one is getting an upgrade.

On Sunday, Aug. 13, a number of bartenders will surround the pool at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Lake Tahoe for the sixth annual Tahoe Blue Vodka Bloody Mary Contest. The event starts at noon.

“There are 15 competing — what you do is arrive, get your wristband and 15 different drink tokens on a punch card. As a patron you’ll go around and taste each and every one of the Bloody Marys and when you’re done, you vote on your favorite. That’s People’s Choice; we’ll tally everybody’s votes and present an award for first and second place,” said Mike Peron, founder of FNCTN, the company that promotes and produces the event.

Apart from the People’s Choice category, the bartenders — each from a different local establishment — will have their concoctions evaluated by a panel of eight local celebrities.

“That’s a little more in-depth: they’ll go around in a group to each of the bartenders and taste the Bloody Marys. It goes off taste, originality, use of ingredients and creativity — and they rate each category on a scale from one to 10,” Peron explained.

As with the People’s Choice, the top two bartenders will each win an award.

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There is only one rule the competitors must follow when creating their drinks: Tahoe Blue Vodka must be used.

“It’s an open format, as long as you use Tahoe Blue Vodka — you can add bourbon or whiskey, infuse the vodka if you like — it turns into a garnish-off where you have lobster tails, slices of pizza … One lady last year made 300 airtight bacon straws that you could literally drink through, which is pretty tough,” Peron said.

“It’s not just about the mix — it’s about the garnish as well. It’s all in the presentation.”

This is the first year that FNCTN’s Bloody Mary Contest is taking place at Hard Rock. Last year, the company had to stop selling tickets because the event outgrew Steamers Bar & Grill, the venue for the past three years.

The 2017 Bloody Mary Contest maxes out at 500 tastings, so the bartenders know how many drinks to prepare.

“The event is open to the public — you don’t have to purchase a ticket to come check it out; we keep the pool open for hotel guests and the public. We’re expecting about 1,500 people to be there,” Peron said.

Apart from the drinks, there will be a raffle in support of the Heavenly Ski Foundation.

“It’s making a comeback after being dissolved for the past couple years. We’re giving away a beach cruiser from South Shore Bikes, some brewery tours from Lagunitas — a ton of different prizes. We’re hoping to raise over $1,000 for the Heavenly Ski Foundation,” Peron said.

Following the contest, the casino’s Vinyl venue will host an after-party featuring local artists Strange Weather, Mic Smith and Roger That. Doors open at 9 p.m. for the show. Tickets for the performance range from $10-$15.

The sixth annual Bloody Mary Contest is held from noon through 5 p.m. Tasting tickets are $30, and offer the opportunity to taste all 15 mixed drinks. Learn more and purchase tickets through FNCTN’s Facebook page (@FNCTNMusic).