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Is there a possibly better way to welcome summer than by enjoying signature cocktails for a cause to the beats of local Latin jazz musicians while taking in the panoramic views and sights of the South Carolina Aquarium? If you attended the Bacardi Classic Cocktail Competition, you’ll probably agree that there isn’t.

A very young, very hip crowd squeezed their way into the aquarium after being carded and receiving their signature Bacardi cup. Partygoers were then greeted with a photo booth, live Latin jazz from local musicians, and extensive but quickly moving lines at the beverage tables. Guests chatted and watched professional dancers twist and turn to the music while waiting for their cocktails. And what a vast array of cocktails there were! Judges Darcy Shankland, editor-in-chief of Charleston magazine, and US Weekly's Mike Kelton certainly had their work cut out for them.

Seventeen of Charleston’s finest drinking establishments set up camp at various spots around the aquarium, each offering a more creative, delicious concoction than the last. Revelers sipped on Hibiscus Mojitos from Tristan, Southern Twangs from Muse, Monchito Mojitos from Wild Wing Cafe, and Honeydew & White Tea Fizz from Vendue Rooftop.

Guests could be overheard raving about Mellow Mushroom’s signature cocktail, and partygoers eagerly lined up to get a taste from not-yet-open King Street establishment Republic, which served up a delicious beverage called Farewell to Arms. Master mixologist Evan Powell described it as a “Hemingway Daiquiri”, and it was a definite hit with the crowd.


Though the competition was fierce, judges unanimously selected Eurasia's Changes in Latitude, a cocktail that mixed Bacardi Silver, St. Germaine liquer, lemon basil sorbet, ginger beer, lemon, & star anise, to win the grand prize of  an all-expenses paid trip to Puerto Rico and a VIP tour of the Bacardi distillery. The people's choice went to Fish for their beverage that blended Bacardi Silver, elderflower syrup, Sauvignon Blanc, lemon, lime, and orange slices, and soda. 

Everyone milled about the first and second floors, congregating before the massive tanks of colorful marine life and nibbling on savory bites from Tristan. More and more guests found their way out to the colorfully lit terrace as the evening wore on, and they relaxed on chic white lounges or admired the views of the Charleston Harbor.  Others lined up at the Cuban cigar rolling station where the deft fingers of cigar makers flew across the table, flipping and rolling, slicing and wrapping fresh cigars for the crowd.

The Bacardi Classic Cocktail Competition benefited the South Carolina Special Olympics, and featured mixologists from High Cotton, Tristan, Wild Wing, Halls, Rooftop at Vendue Inn, Republic, Fish, Eurasia, O-Ku, Cocktail Club, NV, Co, Mellow Mushroom, Blu, Muse, Aqua, and Upstairs at the Icehouse. The Special Olympics strives to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people 8 years and older with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics allows these people to continue to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship.