OUT caught up with Sabrina Haley - the recently crowned Northern California Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic - fresh off her 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 Sabrina had to say about the competition.
OUT: Sabrina, congrats on being named the Northern California Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?
Sabrina Haley: I am EXCITED! I am proud to be able to win this for me, for our Oakland bar, The Port Bar, and for Oakland! I love putting new things on the map and being involved in the community.
You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your NorCal competitors with a super creative cocktail, "Impeachmint". Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
I wanted to make a cocktail that would guide you into summer from spring, refreshing with some bite. I choose Stoli Peachnik as its the fruit of the South, and it is the Key West Cocktail Competition after all. :)
I added mint in, to channel our Mojito from our close neighbors in Cuba. It is called "Impeachmint" for good reason with the peach and mind, but also for our message against the presidency and its attack on gay rights and our progress. It is 2017 and we should be gaining more and more rights and equality, not shattering our hard work.
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.
When I was young bartending was a means to make money and have some fun, but as I grew more into my gay person, and grew closer with the amazing gay community in NYC, I realized I had a platform with people paying attention to use all that energy for more impact and community building. I got to work at The Stonewall Inn in for 7 years, started the first woman's party there, and I started hosting lots of benefits, using the parties to do more, and also creating parties/events for queer folk with good energy that all feel welcome.
Then when I moved back to the Bay Area, I got to help consult and manage a new LGBT bar in our Oakland home, The Port Bar. As a bartender, you have a chance to make someone feel special, empowered, and safe in their amazing gay skin. I take that role with pride and serious attention.
As you know, part of your prize for winning the Northern California competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?
NO.... So excited to see that water, all the history, culture, and just meet all the amazing folks of the Cocktail Classic and Key West.
And if you take home the title, you'll be included as the Grand Marshall of the Key West Pride Parade. Have you ever been the Grand Marshall of a parade before?
So cool! I have had the chance to create and run a float down the NYC Pride March! It was a slippery when wet theme, with an adult kids pool on one trailer, and a DJ on the other. It was a float to bring attention to our 'Proud As F*ck' annual lesbian/queer pride party, and it was one of the most magical moments of my life. I cannot wait to see the Key West Pride Parade, and potentially be in it. I love how they do the rainbow flag down the whole street.
And in Key West, you'll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, Harvey Milk Foundation. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?
I came out of the closet in the Castro, and Harvey Milk and his work were always an amazing inspiration. The work of Harvey Milk and his lasting Foundation have paved so many paths towards equality. It just made sense in repping the Northern California chapter to include our local hero.
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 hope we all have an amazing time together and practice great team work and healthy competition. I am comfortable and in my skin and can rock a crowd. Let's do this!
Amazing. Well we can't wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of Northern California will be rooting for you!
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