North Texas Daily

Bloody battle of the bars: Two Charlies celebrates hearty cocktail

Bloody battle of the bars: Two Charlies celebrates hearty cocktail

Bloody battle of the bars: Two Charlies celebrates hearty cocktail
October 23
16:56 2018

For the past 11 years, the Denton bar scene has been battling it out across town atop the roof of Two Charlies Bar & Grill, and this past Sunday was no different. Their weapon? The classic bloody mary in a dozen anything-but-classic renditions.

“When we first started off we were trying to make a name for [ourselves],” Two Charlies Bar owner Charlie Gloor said. “We had a great menu [and] great staff, but we wanted to get people this side of town and remind them that we were here. So we started doing our salsa contest and right after that the next one was the bloody mary contest. We’ve been doing it for 11 years.”

Many of Denton’s favorite local bars have returned year after year to compete in Two Charlies’ Annual Bloody Mary Battle. While the theme of the event is considered a bar battle, restaurants and local independents who are trying to showcase their recipes are also welcome to compete.

According to Gloor, East Side Denton, Oak St. Draft House and Cocktail Parlor, Caskey’s Bar and Grill and Two Charlies have done particularly well over the past 11 years. However, Caskey’s Bar and Grill did not enter the competition this year and Two Charlies felt that they needed all staff on deck in order to manage the competition.

Kayla Mullin, a participant with Komodo Loco, serves an attendee a cup of the Witches Brew bloody mary. Komodo Loco’s bloody mary had the essence of a bloody mary, just strained. Isabel Anes

“Every year the bloody marys are [made differently] by every team,” said Josh Harris, general manager of Two Charlies. “Because they think about the year prior and they get back to the drawing board. Even if they won, it seems like they change it every year, so the uniqueness is definitely a part of it.”

The bloody mary was chosen for the competition because of its versatility, according to Gloor. He wanted to give the contestants room to stretch their legs and get creative with the drink, an ingredient present in nearly every sample. From spices, beef straws, baby sausage and bacon garnishes, all the way to a pickle juice base, it is clear that the contestants did not lack creativity.

“Every year it gets more and more creative,” Gloor said. “You get more and more local bars, new bars, new restaurants, new staff that comes in from other places and they become family. That is why we keep doing this. A lot of other bars in Denton have started doing competitions as well and I think it’s a great way to bring everybody together and not think of each other as competitors but as one big family.”

Gloor considers the battle as a gathering of friends who share a common industry, which is perhaps another reason the bloody mary was chosen as the drink of the event.

Eastside and Oak Street’s presentation at the Bloody Mary Battle was Dia de los Muertos style. Their bloody mary, Dia de los Bebedas, was a mango habanero mix served on the ‘alter of serving.’ Isabel Anes

“The people you share them with and the company that you keep [are what makes a bloody mary],” said Al Bagley, manager of Andy’s Bar and Paschall Bar. “Especially in the service industry. You wake up, you work hard, go to bed late. That is the primary ingredient of a bloody mary — the people that you share it with. The actual drink and everything — vodka.”

Bagley has competed in the competition for eight years and has seen many different iterations of the bloody mary. Andy’s Bar won first place in presentation this year with a gothic booth and a barbecue-style bloody mary complete with baby sausages — a variation echoed in his views on the drink.

“It is the meal in our industry,” Bagley said. “It fills you up, makes you feel better, it kind of gives you an excuse [to drink] — a little bit, just a little bit. It just starts your day and usually it’s a Sunday brunch-type thing. It’s the drink that gives back.”

The bartenders at 940s Kitchen and Cocktail also believe the drink gives back in the form of the ultimate hangover cure, a theme portrayed in their version of the bloody mary. Riding on the pickle back’s popularity in Denton, a drink that is traditionally a shot of Jameson followed by a pickle juice chaser, the bartenders wanted to combine the curative hangover powers of both pickle juice and a bloody mary into a drink appropriately titled “Big Dill Energy.”

Val Abril and Johnathan Cerda from 940s Kitchen pose with their dill pickle-inspired bloody mary Big Dill Energy. “The bigger the dill, the bigger the energy,” Cerda said. Isabel Anes

“It’s the staple hangover drink man,” said Jonathon Cerda, a cocktail artist at 940s Kitchen and Cocktail. “I think bloody marys trump mimosas for sure because bloody marys are more approachable. I think mimosas are just a little bit more [glamorous], like Hollywood types are drinking on Sunday. Bloody marys are more blue-collar, like I’m getting rid of a hangover and freaking chilling with my friends. A good bloody mary on Sunday, you know?”

The competition ended with a sense of friendship and community as awards were handed out. First place overall and in presentation were swept by the joint bars Paschall Bar and Andy’s Bar respectively. While the teams will return to the bar top in order to perfect a new or improved recipe for next year, the event is far more about community than competition for many.

“We love having these events,” said Gloor. “We support other bars as they do us. We have a lot of service industry people that come in here after their shift, which I think [is] a big thing in Denton. We support this community and we love it. We don’t look at each other as competitors, we look at each other as one big family.”

Featured Image: Andy’s Bar, the winner for presentation, stuck with a Halloween themed table. Their bloody mary contained activated charcoal which gave the drink its black color. Isabel Anes

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Slade Meadows

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