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Meet Arthur Quijada: The San Diego Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic 2017 Champion

Arthur Quijada Stoli

"I couldn't be more excited for this adventure." 

OUT caught up with Arthur Quijada - the recently crowned San Diego Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic - fresh off his win. The Cocktail Classic is Stoli's annual competition to find North America's Number One Bartender. LGBTQ bartenders and allies across the U.S. and Canada will compete to represent their home city on the grand stage of cocktail mixology during Pride Week, June 7-11th, in Key West, Florida. Here's what Arthur had to say about the competition.

OUT: Arthur, congrats on being named the San Diego Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?

Arthur Quijada: It feels completely unbelievable! I am by no means a bartender and it's completely amazing to have this wonderful and unexpected opportunity. I feel overly loved and have such amazing support here in my community. I am proud to be supporting not only Mo's Universe and San Diego, but also my dearly departed friend, Michael Calles AKA Giggles.

You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your San Diego competitors with a super creative cocktail, "Atocha". Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?

The Atocha was inspired by the most valuable sunken treasure ever found in the world. The sunken ship with the name of my cocktail was found off of the Florida Keys in the 1980's. I found the story inspiring in that there are physical treasures in the world, but also more valuable treasures found throughout life; such as friendships new or old. Also the value of community and those that will support you no matter what; which is basically what built a beautiful relationship of the original crew that found the Atocha. I've had nothing but overwhelming support from all of my wonderful friends and this fantastic community since I've become apart of it these past three years.


The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic honors the unique legacy of gay bars as original safe spaces and community centers and the role our bartenders have played as hosts and caretakers throughout history. Tell us about what your role as a nightlife professional means to you.

It means always being on. Being that light that people come to see and enjoy themselves. It means being a safe haven, and home for those who just need to come and smile and have a drink or two to relax and wind down from whatever life is throwing at them at that time. I love to make people laugh and am always prepared to make your night extraordinary and have you leave with a smile.

As you know, part of your prize for winning the San Diego competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?

I have never been to Key West, or Florida for that matter. This will be the farthest I've ever been from home, and I couldn't be more excited for this adventure.


In Key West, you'll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, Be The Generation, as well as Key West's own Sister Season Fund. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to either one, or why you picked those foundations to represent?

Be The Generation is HUGE here in San Diego. Their hope is to "end the AIDS epidemic through biomedical prevention research including vaccines, microbicides, and pre-exposure prophylaxis." Basically, promoting safe sex and prevention altogether.

Any advice (or trash talk!) for your competitors as you head into the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finale - June 7th - 12th in Key West, FL?

I just want to go and have a great time, and I can't wait to meet my fellow champions and make some new friends... Also, don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I'm definitely in it to win it.

Amazing. Well we can't wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of San Diego will be rooting for you!

To keep up with Arthur and the rest of the action in the 4th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, visit Vote for Arthur as your Fan Favorite Bar Star before June 4th at 2:59 PM ET to help him receive immunity from elimination at the Grand Finale in Key West. Click here to cast your vote.

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