HRAC spins Carnival and cocktail party
Patrons were donned with Mardi Gras beads and doubloons, or coins, as they were welcomed into a Carnival style celebration of cocktails.
The Hammond Regional Arts Center hosted Art of the Cocktail for the first time on Friday, Feb. 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Guests had the opportunity to pay for tickets prior to the event and to taste eleven cocktails from local businesses. While enjoying cocktails, guests could use three doubloons to vote for their favorite cocktails.
Media Coordinator for HRAC Tara Bennett was thrilled with the first time event’s success.
“The overwhelming response to our first cocktail event was fantastic and just goes to show the increased interest in discovering what the city of Hammond has to offer,” said Bennett. “I was over the moon because someone very positively said to me, ‘I can’t believe I’m in Hammond.’”
Participating businesses were Red White & Brew, Tope Lá, the Blackened Brew, the Crescent Bar, Cate Street Seafood Station, Tommy’s on Thomas, La Carreta, Your Mom’s, Cate Street Pub and Benny’s Place.
The first place winner was The Crescent Bar with their King Cake Martini. Second place went to Mariner’s with their creation of Herbal G&T. Cate Street Seafood Station won third place with Thai, Oh My!
Owner of the Crescent Bar Rickie Brocato admits that he was excited and flattered to win the competition. The Crescent Bar supports HRAC year round and considers the event as another success by them.
Crescent Bar employee Claude Hooks served as the representative for the bar during Art of the Cocktail. The cocktail included King Cake Vodka, Butterscotch Schnapps, Cream Liqueur, strawberry syrup and cinnamon.
“He thought the martini selection fit the time of the year with Mardi Gras right around the corner,” said Brocato. “He was both excited and aggressive in planning and serving for the event. Congratulations to all of our fellow bartenders and their establishments for their selections. The patrons of the event had many fine choices.”
Bonnie Thibodaux and her husband Wayne are members of HRAC. The two appreciated the unity that HRAC provided for the community.
“I think with all the bars coming together and being in one space, we get the best that they have in one place,” said Bonnie Thibodaux. “It’s fun and different. HRAC rocks. Rock the arts. It’s important to have events like this.”
When deciding what aesthetic aspects Art of the Cocktail would have, tradition, environment and experience were highly considered.
“With Mardi Gras right around the corner, it felt natural to go with a Carnival theme especially since there’s the belief that the cocktail was invented in New Orleans,” said Bennett. “Since we were partying Carnival style, we decided to bring a different flavor to Hammond in the forms of the fabulous Kookie Baker and the talented Jamie Ray of Airseekers.”
The Airseekers, a Baton Rouge based company that was created by aerialist Ray, was contacted by Bennett to perform and agreed to make its contribution to the local art community. Ray choreographs her own routines and performed three times throughout the night.
“I think community, in any aspect, is important no matter what your community is,” said Ray. “Whether it’s the arts, or the movement community, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have events like this without community, so when I’m asked to contribute in some way, I always do.”
Baker served as master of ceremonies for the event, but also performed multiple times. Baker performed drag, cabaret style entertainment after HRAC contacted Baker looking for a different type of entertainment and saw the importance of HRAC showcasing artists.
“It gives them a venue where they can come in and showcase their work that may otherwise not get a chance to be seen by anyone,” said Baker. “It’s always fun because you never know what you’re gonna deal with when you show up to these gigs, but it’s been fun. Just going around, meeting and greeting people and seeing the love and terror in their eyes really just makes my heart warm and melty.”
Bennett admitted that due to the high level of interest for the event, people had to be turned away after HRAC met the limit with ticket sales.
“Due to fire codes, we can only hold so many people inside the building at once,” said Bennett. “So it gives us something to consider for next year as to whether we should host it inside or outside.”
Bennett has hopes for Art of the Cocktail to become an annual event following the success of it.
“I found it to be a great opportunity for our local bartenders to show off their skills,” said Bennett. “We’re so grateful for their time and expertise.”
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