Seven local pubs and restaurants are coming together to redefine Gulf County…or the official drink, at least.
Welcome to Bar Wars--an idea brought to the table from Tourist Development Council executive director Jennifer Jenkins, who aims to use a new beverage as a marketing tool to help further define and unite the area.
“It’s another brilliant idea that Jennifer has brought to the table,” said David Warriner, Chairman of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council advisory board. “It’s a creative and interesting idea and will help to build buzz in the community.”
During the advisory board’s meeting last week, volunteers from restaurants and bars came together to discuss the rules of the competition, the results of which will be announced during the New Year’s Eve Celebrate Twice event on Dec. 30. (See related article.)
Over the next several weeks, bartenders at Dockside Seafood and Raw Bar, Haughty Heron, Ronnie B’s, The Thirsty Goat, St. Joe Bar and Lookout Lounge will test new concoctions with their patrons, the aim to turn in a final recipe by Dec. 29.
The drink, which will be known as the “GCFL,” is also required to sport one of Gulf Coast’s official colors of turquoise, orange, coral, emerald green or royal blue.
“We don’t need something with exotic fruit and a little umbrella,” said Jenkins. “We’re looking for something that’s reflective of our visitors and residents.
“It needs to be refreshing and easy to make.”
On Dec. 30, a series of judges will sample each drink during a blind taste test and the winning recipe will be served at all participating pubs and restaurants during Celebrate Twice.
“The contest is a great way for establishments to work together,” said Jenkins. “It’s very collaborative and one of the great things about Gulf County people is that they know how to work together.”
Jenkins has plans to travel to New York and Birmingham, Al. in the New Year to meet with editors, journalists and bloggers to promote Gulf County.
At each stop, Jenkins will hold a reception for members of the media. Traditionally, when promoting an area, food from a local chef is served alongside music from the community.
The goal of Jenkins’ trip is to bring Gulf County to those cities and said that a signature drink would be something fun and out of the norm.
“I’m always thinking, ‘how can we be different?’” said Jenkins. “I don’t know of any other destination that has an official drink.”
During the planned media receptions, Jenkins said she still plans to serve food reflective of the area, as well as bring a Plein Air artist and possibly a representative from one of the local apiaries.
“It’s all about bringing your destinations to those areas,” said Jenkins. “You have to show them your authentic characteristics.”
Jenkins said that the point of Bar Wars is not to promote alcohol, but rather to have fun while engaging residents and visitors.
She said that she was excited about the prospect of someone being able to go to any area restaurant and order a GCFL drink and knowing that it’s going to be delicious.
“It allows the bars to coordinate with one another. Even though we’re competing businesses, we can all work together,” said Warriner.