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Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQ magazine, a collaborative team on the hunt to find our nation's "Most Inspired" bartender, brought the party to town Thursday night. Their mixology contest is sweeping through 30 U.S. cities and selecting one behind-the-bar superstar from each stop. The winners, including one from Charleston, will converge in Las Vegas later this year and compete for a chance to be featured in the magazine's Man of the Year issue. Thanks to a large turnout, the $25 entrance fee netted $10,000 for Charleston Chefs Feed the Need, an effort by local restaurants, caterers, and hoteliers to provide 400 free meals every Wednesday. The program, which got its start in April, has already served an estimated 6,400 meals via four local agencies: Crisis Ministries, Tricounty Family Ministries, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, and Neighborhood House. Proceeds from Thursday's ticket sales will underwrite approximately 4,500 meals for the initiative.

The floor of the Riviera Theatre was thumping as DJ Trav spun baseline-heavy house tunes. The invitation urged guests to don paparazzi-worthy threads, and the bulk of the crowd interpreted the apparel cue as shorter-than-short South Beach fashions: micro minis paired with towering heels on the girls and floodwater trousers on the guys. A smattering of seersucker reminded us that we were, in fact, in Charleston and not Miami despite the prevalence of Bombay's signature shade of electric blue, which dominated the decor (and the tube dresses worn by the brand ambassadors).

Milo Rodriguez, a noted mixologist who travels the Bombay promotions circuit, attempted to demonstrate a recipe from the stage, but the din never dissipated despite several calls-for-quiet from the bouncers positioned around the room—guests were clearly having too much fun with their custom cocktails! Unfortunately, that also meant the crowd largely drowned out Mickey Bakst (founder of Charleston Chefs Feed the Need), who took the microphone to thank guests for their attendance and let everyone know about the charitable impact of the ticket sales. With so many nonprofits scrambling these days to raise a dollar, it was a tad surreal to be among several hundred event attendees, who were aloof to the wonderful (and substantial) impact of their indirect contributions (via their ticket purchase); however, I have no doubt the gratitude felt for each forthcoming subsidized meal will be very real to those involved with feeding our local need—4,500 free meals is incredible!

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