By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Newspaper
TULSA, OK – Last month AAA Oklahoma held its annual Great Pretenders Mocktail Mix-Off at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa.
Local bartenders competed to produce original, holiday recipes for zero-proof beverages.
The winning drinks were selected by a panel of 5 local celebrity judges: ABEL Commissioner Lieutenant Erik Smoot; Newson6 anchor Lori Fullbright; Mayor Coby Jenkins, from the Rogers County Sheriff’s office; City of Catoosa Chief of Police Kevin McKim; and Vice Mayor of the City of Catoosa, Thomas Sweet.
“After the mixologists were finished, our judges made their way to sip each of their concoctions and rated them according to these four factors: the name of the drink, its appearance, its taste and its originality,” said Mark Madeja, Senior Specialist, Public and Government Affairs, AAA Oklahoma.
First Place winners were Colby Poulin and Shane Melton, representing Iguana Mexican Grill in Oklahoma City. Second Place went to Shirley Baker, representing the Tulsa Elks Lodge. The Third Place winner was Rachelle Bailey, representing Boots & Diamonds Saloon, Tulsa.
The winning bartenders took home prize money totaling $2,000. The event was sponsored by AAA of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABEL), the Stop DUI Task Force and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tulsa.
“It’s a fun way to focus on a serious problem: drinking and driving,” said. Madeja. “This is the first year we’ve had the event in Tulsa and it was a huge success.
Madeja said they approached Tulsa’s Hard Rock Hotel and Casino after it received the American Automobile Association’s prestigious Four Diamond Rating earlier this year.
“They were enthusiastic to get involved and made the Mocktail Mix-Off a real event,” Madeja said.
Presenting these zero proof ‘mocktails’ AAA aims to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes (and deaths) during the holidays.
“In Oklahoma, some 35 percent of motor vehicle crashes are alcohol-related. That jumps to 40 percent during the holidays,” Madeja stated.
Recipes for the 2017 winning Mocktails:
1st Place – The Panche Rusa
by Colby Poulin & Shane Melton, representing Iguana Mexican Grill, Oklahoma City
1 1/3 cup fresh chilled grapefruit juice
1 1/3 cup fresh chilled orange juice
3/4 cup fresh chilled lime juice
1 pineapple cut into medium-sized cubes & skewered with jicama
1 jicama cut into medium-sized cubes & skewered with pineapple
1 cucumber cut into 4” long spears, or just enough to stick up over glassware”
1 grapefruit cut into half moons 1 lime cut into wheels
Tajin Classico Seasoning
Tamarind candy straw with end cut off
Instructions: Take the skewered fruit & cucumber spears & freeze for 5-6 hours before serving. Use as ice cubes as well as a tasty treat; feel free to experiment with all types of fruits & vegetables; oranges work well too. (If preferred, use regular ice cubes & just use fruit as garnish). When ready to serve combine the freshly juiced citrus into a punch bowl or a large serving bowl. Grab some fun glassware such as a Cantarito mug. Pour some Chamoy onto a plate; on a separate plate pour some Tajin Seasoning. Easily rim the glass with Chamoy, & then, immediately dunk the rimmed glass into the Tajin Seasoning. Place a skewer or two of frozen fruit & one cucumber spear in glass. Ladle the fresh citrus juice into glass until about half full. Top with your choice of grapefruit soda. Garnish with grapefruit, lime, & tamarind straw.
2nd Place – The Tree Topper
by Shirley Baker, representing the Tulsa Elks Lodge
2 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup ginger ale
Instructions: Pulse in blender till smooth. Pour into martini glass rimmed with mint extract & dipped in crushed chocolate cookie crumbs. Add a small amount of whipping cream in center & sprinkle with crushed candy cane.
3rd Place – The Ho Ho Hold the Booze Cider
by Rachelle Bailey, representing Boots & Diamonds Saloon, Tulsa
3 cups real cranberries
4 Granny Smith apples
½ ounce cinnamon
4 tablespoons sugar 5 cups water
1 gallon apple cider
Instructions: Bring cranberries, water, apples, sugar & cinnamon to boil. Rim glass with caramel. Squeeze lemon juice in glass, fill 1/3 with cider. Fill the rest with boiled fruit & water. Garnish with apple slice.
In addition to the Mocktail recipes, the holiday brochure recommends that participants practice AAA’s “ABCs of Party Giving” which includes Alcohol Alertness, Buffet recommendations and Carpooling information.
A – Alcohol Alertness
- Ask each group of guests to pre-plan for a designated driver who will enjoy the delicious non-alcoholic drinks you provide and drive the group home.
- Collect all drivers’ keys in a bowl when guests arrive.
- Mix drinks yourself; avoid open bars.
- Limit mixing drinks with carbonated beverages; they increase alcohol absorption.
- Close your bar 90 minutes before your party is over. Don’t offer, “one for the road.”
B – Buffet - Serve high-protein foods (meats & cheeses). Cheese fondues and cheese balls are good, too. They stay in the stomach longer and slow down intoxication. The same goes for starchy foods like mashed potatoes and beans. - Go light on salty foods. They make guests thirsty and speed up intoxication. Offer raw veggies and low-salt crackers.
C – Carpool – Only TIME can make guests sober – not coffee or cold showers. It takes about 1 hour to burn off an average drink, 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1 ½ ounces of liquor. They all contain about the same amount of alcohol. - Designate someone who’s not drinking to assess guests when they are ready to leave and make sure they are not intoxicated. The ‘roadwise’ host is in charge of the bowl of keys and hands them out only to those who aren’t showing signs of intoxication. - Guests who are sleepy, giddy, overly talkative or uncoordinated are under the influence. Arrange rides for them or invite them to sleep over. If guests get irate, ‘hide’ their keys until they find a ride home. - The first ability affected by alcohol is judgment and decision-making. For some people, it only takes one drink for reflexes and judgment needed for driving to be impaired. It’s not a weakness. It’s a reality. - If a guest would be unsafe behind the wheel, call a cab, Uber or AAA Tipsy Tow (12/15 – 1/2).
Following AAA’s ABCs can help make sure your guests get home safely when the party is over.
“A host who feels like he has lost a friend one night will have an even better friend the next morning,” according to AAA.
For this year’s holiday celebrations designated drivers are a great idea. AAA Oklahoma’s free Tipsy Tow service will be available beginning Friday, December 15 at 2 p.m. through Monday, January 1 at 4 a.m. Call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and ask for Tipsy Tow.
AAA will take you and your vehicle home – up to 15 miles from point of pick-up.
“The first ability affected by alcohol is judgment and decision-making,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma Public and Government Affairs Manager. “For some people, it only takes one drink for reflexes and judgment needed for driving to be impaired. It’s not a weakness. It’s a reality.”
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 400,000 members in Oklahoma. The organization advocates for the safety and mobility of its members for more than 100 years.
For more information, visit AAA.com.