Northstar Bartenders Guild mashes Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo

What do you get when you cross a Mexican holiday, a historic horse race, and the best drink mixers in the business? A room full of giant hats, refreshing cocktails, and one inexplicable guy in a kilt. The Northstar Bartenders Guild held its latest bash in a posh loft with 180-degree views of downtown Minneapolis, from the Riverside Plaza apartment complex to the Metrodome to the glittery lights of downtown. The party began in the late afternoon and stretched into the evening.

Guests quaffed margaritas and mint juleps as mixed by superstar bartenders like Johnny Michaels (La Belle Vie), Jesse Held (Eat Street Social), Ben Quam (Kieran's), Adam Harness (Cafe Maude), Richy Rivera (Eli's East), Chad Larson, and many more.

Food arrived courtesy of Bullfrog Cajun Bar and included a spread of Cajun-spiced wings, braised pork for a build-your-own taco bar, and a pecan pie bar for dessert. Drinks were the classic margarita and juleps, but the masters mixed them with their own twist. One julep had a pepper-infused bourbon, leaving a pleasant kiss of heat on the lips, where another was made with top-shelf, craft bourbon, so elegant it should be served on a plantation porch alongside someone called the "Colonel."

The crowd only quieted momentarily as the race began. Being short in stature, I couldn't quiet see the screen. Luckily, Richy Rivera summed up the action for those in the back, "There's a horse and he's running and he's passed by ... another horse!" Cheers all around. It seemed fitting the winner's name was I'll Have Another.

From there we down-shifted into Mexican festivities, with one of the most tenacious pinatas I've ever encountered. Through three adults whacking it with all their strength, it still refused to bust. Instead the candy burst forth from a violently smashed-in face.

As with all Northstar Bartenders Guild events, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity, in this case the Animal Humane Society.

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