Giving back to the community has never been easier for those who also enjoy a refreshing cocktail. The 507, a local bar based in downtown Mankato, is in the middle of its second annual Battle of the Bartenders charity event.
This event, beginning on Feb. 2, spans over five weeks on every Wednesday night with bartenders from The 507 creating cocktails and battling for the charity of their choice.
Elijah Pitchford, assistant to kitchen manager at The 507, explained what this battle entails and how it functions.
“It’s six of our bartenders. They all have their drink of choice and every Wednesday we have two of them go against each other,” Pitchford stated. “Basically, you buy a ticket if you’re somebody sitting down and you have a chance to try both drinks.”
From 6 to 9 p.m. the bartenders dish out their drinks to customers and try to win the most votes. When customers walk through the door and sit down, they’re invited to participate in the event with the two drinks priced at $16 together.
Kody Robinson, a Minnesota State University, Mankato student who graduated in December 2021, attended the first Battle of the Bartender this year and was happy to see them give back to the community in a unique way.
“It was a little difficult [to pick a drink], but knowing if you like sweet [drinks] or not makes it kind of easier. They were both evenly good drinks, but you can always tell which one you like more,” Robinson stated.
To keep the competition fair, Pitchford explained how there are designated rules set in place.
“We give both the drinks to you at the same time. You can drink them at your leisure, and when you’re done with them we’ll ask you which one you thought was better,” Pitchford stated. “We don’t tell you whose charity is whose or what drink’s what, so it’s kind of a blind tasting and you’re not choosing charities based on the bartender.”
Robinson pointed out that it’s easy to pick a favorite drink, as the two may be very different from each other.
“They were completely opposite. The whole table tried the drinks and we all voted for the same one because it was the sweeter one,” Robinson commented.
When it comes to the bartenders choosing the charity they want to donate the money to, many pick one they feel a close connection with.
“I know there’s one [bartender] who chose Ronald McDonald House in Minnesota and that’s where they stayed when her son was in the NICU, so that one’s close to her heart,” Pitchford commented. “There’s other people who have different reasons as to why they picked what charity they want. We try to keep it Minnesota based, but any charity is a good charity.”
Participants are able to give back while also having a memorable evening.
“It was really fun. I like how they’re giving the money to a charity. I’d definitely do it again, it makes for a fun Wednesday night,” Robinson stated.
Once the battle ends with the last competition on March 2, the money collected from the five weeks will be given to the winner’s charity. Last year, BENCHS was the recipient of the money with approximately $700 being donated to them.
“I think it’s a great thing annually to just give back to the community,” Pitchford stated.
(Jenna Peterson/The Reporter)
Write to Jenna Peterson at Jenna.Peterson@mnsu.edu