And The Winner Is…

What do you get when you put your bartenders head to head in an in-house cocktail contest? An amazing new drink menu! The AC Lounge has been cranking out cocktails for over 15 years, so we know a thing or two about what makes a delicious beverage. We update our drink menu annually, and this year, we decided to have a little fun with it and put our awesome bartenders to the test. With bragging rights at stake, they absolutely KILLED IT. Our bar staff was given a one month warning to prepare for the ultimate AC Lounge competition. Every participant had to present custom concoctions to their fellow bartenders, and each drink was anonymously scored to decide the winners that would be featured on our new cocktail menu! Our bartenders are always movin’, but that month was ridiculously busy with shaking, stirring, and LOTS of testing in an effort to rise to the top with unique, championship-worthy drinks. From seasoned barkeeps to growing mixologists, our bartenders are as diverse as our crowd, which resulted in an epic variety of sweet, savory, and spicy creations. It was a stiff (and insanely fun!) competition that definitely produced some crowd pleasing, yummy libations. We always consider ourselves a family, but is there really anything sweeter than taking down your coworkers in a heated competition?

Jeff, an obvious frontrunner and AC Lounge legend, took home third place for his unique twist on an old fashioned. His Kentucky Chocolate is a sweet take on the classic cocktail, utilizing Maker’s Mark whiskey and the delightful addition of amaretto and chocolate flavors with a touch of orange essence to really elevate this tasty treat! Barback turned impressive bartender, Luke, earned second place for his refreshing Cucumber Cooler. In his attempt to create a gin-based cocktail “for people who don’t really like gin” came an admirably smooth, fresh mix of Tanqueray gin, Aperol, and fresh lime juice with a touch of sweetness and crisp cucumber slices. It is one of those cocktails that you can keep sipping all day long (especially out on our beautiful patio, The Glampisphere!).

First place…DRUM ROLL… was a TIE! There was not one bad cocktail presented by any of our bartenders, so we just couldn’t pick one winner! Dakota’s North Island Sangria was as creative and fun as he is whenever he’s slinging drinks at the AC. Using a variety of fruity liqueurs combined with a classy pour of Cabernet Sauvignon resulted in a one of a kind, candy-like creation perfect for your sweet tooth! Earning the same score was the Spicy Bourbon Sour from one of our youngest bartenders, Emily. The surprising combination of Bulleit Bourbon, orange liqueur, passionfruit syrup, fresh lemon juice, and the zing from raw jalapeno slices and tabasco sauce gives a distinctive flavor experience. Spicy, sweet, smoky, and sour engage your palate in a single drink, and it is DELISH!

Although the Air Conditioned Lounge is known for great music, killer bottle service, and being the best neighborhood dance bar in North Park, our bartenders enhance that experience with incredible cocktails and a fun atmosphere. We had such a blast creating our new menu through a little friendly competition, but you know who the real judge is? YOU! Make sure to support all of the bartender creations featured on our new cocktail menu, and tell us what you think! In fact, we’ll make it even easier, if you mention this blog to your bartender, you’ll get $3 knocked off of your first drink when you order any of the winners during the month of April, so stroke our bartenders’ egos and order a Kentucky Chocolate, Cucumber Cooler, North Island Sangria, or Spicy Bourbon Sour the next time you visit the AC from now until April 30th!