SOMERS POINT — There is a stiff competition this summer in bars and restaurants across Atlantic and Cape May counties to come up with the best original drink and the best bartender and establishment serving up that drink.
The Herotini Challenge supports the HERO Campaign for designated drivers. The effort is to create a new mocktail, a nonalcoholic drink for designated drivers.
The HERO Campaign was started by Bill and Muriel Elliott after their son John was struck and killed by a drunken driver in July 2000 while he was driving home from the Naval Academy.
Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar kicked off the competition with Greg’s Grape Decision: ginger ale with grape juice, a splash of club soda and grape garnish. More than 50 people stopped into the bar June 22 to try Greg’s Grape Decision.
Christine D’Alessandro, of Linwood, is heading the marketing effort for the Herotini Challenge and said it has not only been a huge hit but a wonderful way for local businesses to partner and support the campaign supporting designated drivers.
Tim Glenn of Glenn Insurance and Matt Reynolds of Reynolds and Capaldi are sponsoring Gregory’s in the Herotini Challenge.
“We are very happy to support Gregory’s and support the Hero Campaign in the challenge. While it’s lots of fun and it tastes amazing, the important thing is that we raise awareness about designated drivers. After all, it is about saving lives,” said Glenn.
Greg Gregory, co-owner of Gregory’s on Shore Road, said he and HERO Campaign founder Bill Elliott talked about getting local bars, restaurants and businesses together and creating a competition where bartenders get to be creative and come up with a new, alcohol-free drink.
“I am so glad that Bill and I partnered up on the Herotini. We want to get the word out that being the designated driver is OK, it is not unpopular,” Gregory said. “We want designated drivers to be comfortable, and this draws awareness. It will help them do the right thing.”
Bartender Paul Gregory said they want to make the designated driver fit right in along with his or her drinking friends.
“It is all about keeping everyone safe,” he said.
A few other popular Somers Point spots have entries in the Herotini Challenge. At Charlie’s Bar, 800 Shore Road, bartender Kelly Whilden came up with the Wing-a-Rita: orange and pineapple juice, a splash of cherry and some club soda served in a salted, rimmed glass and garnished with oranges and cherries.
Over at the Anchorage, 823 Bay Ave, bartender Adam Bruno has mixed up the Blueberry Dream. Start with crushed, fresh blueberries and add fresh orange juice, a splash of cherry and a little club soda, and shake. Pour over ice and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
Patrons have until Labor Day to vote for their favorite mocktails by texting the designated keywords to 51-555 or by visiting herotini.org. The top 10 vote-earners will be invited to the Herotini Happening Finals on Sept. 14 at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township, where celebrity judges will determine the ultimate winner.
D’Alessandro said they initially thought there might be a lot of interest and they would get maybe a few thousand votes by the end of the competition. The organizer said they had more than 4,000 in the first three weeks alone.
“We are really pleased with how this is turning out because that will mean they are getting the message and hopefully we will manage to save a few lives along the way,” said D’Alessandro.