LAKELAND — Jessica Riner thinks her restaurant's mixtures will be bloody winners.
Riner, manager at Square 1 burgers, Lakeland, said her team of barkeepers will be entering Lakeland's first "Biscuits, Bloodys and the Blues" event, a new fundraising function of Polk County's Imperial Symphony Orchestra (ISO) being held from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Taking place in the Magnolia Building, 702 E. Orange St., Biscuits, Bloodys and the Blues is a food and drink competition, accompanied by a live blues band. During the competition, five area restaurants have signed up to compete for a "People's Choice" and "Judges" awards for having the best bloody mary drink or best biscuit. A bloody mary is cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice and combinations of other spices and flavorings such as Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice or celery salt.
Riner said Square 1 is entering a pepper-infused vodka bloody mary recipe, as well as one using bourbon.
"I think we have a winning combination," said Riner, a former bartender who has worked at Square 1 for two years. "We love to enter these kind of events anyway as a way to market ourselves to the community."
Amy Wiggins, ISO executive director, said the four-hour event will be flavorful and fun as well as a way to introduce new audiences to the ISO.
"It's a music and brunch event, something that is a little bit outside of people's normal expectation of the symphony," she said. "We want to highlight that the ISO isn't just a stuffy music organization; we're dynamic and want to bring other live events to the community — it's not all about Mozart."
Wiggins said there are currently 12 bloody mary and nine biscuit recipes entered and guests will be able to vote for one of each. Once voting is done, two judging panels made up of five judges from the ISO and the community — one for bloody marys, one for biscuits — will decide which recipes are best. The entries will be judged in deliciousness, uniqueness and presentation.
"But it's mostly coming to have a good time and support the restaurants as well as the ISO," said Wiggins, who added each table will have its own mimosa bar.
That was the idea behind Biscuits, Bloodys and the Blues, said Deedre Daniel, ISO board vice president. She said as part of her job in marketing for Geico insurance, she travels a lot and has noticed cities with thriving brunch scenes. She wanted to begin a brunch-like event and came up with the somewhat odd idea of a Biscuits, Bloodys and the Blues competition, complete with specially designed trophies for the winners.
"Food, alcohol and music often bring people together, so I thought, 'Why don't we do biscuits, bloody marys and blues?'" she said. "I thought it sounds good to me, so it would sound good to others, too."
Also included at the event are expanded brunch options; casual attire is encouraged.
Proceeds from the $50 ticket price go to the ISO's general fund for the upcoming season, which starts Oct. 14 and ends March 3. The event is restricted to those 21 years old and older.
Paul Catala can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7533. He can be reached at Twitter @pcat0226.