Monday, July 22, 2024

Elvi’s Kitchen Brandon Munguia wins cocktail competition kicking off Carnaval de San Pedro

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One of the most popular annual island celebrations, El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro, is currently taking place on the island, invading the main streets of downtown with a colorful jamboree filled with paint and popular street dances known as Comparsas.
The festivities started on Saturday, February 18th, with a market day and cocktail competition at the Honourable Louis Sylvestre Sporting Arena. The event saw several booths showcasing local products and food for purchase. Those in attendance enjoyed a fun evening with their loved ones while visiting and consuming the products from the participating vendors.

Later in the evening, shortly after 9PM, a cocktail competition took place, organized by Councillor Ernesto Bardalez of the San Pedro Town Council. The match saw four bartenders: Joseph Pate representing Nauti Crab Bar and Grill, Carlos Balona from The Purple Pelican, Brandon Munguia from Elvi’s Kitchen, and Yoni de la Rosa representing Anglers Restaurant and Bar.

The competition attracted several supporters as four judges took the difficult task of choosing the winner. They included tourism stakeholders Anita Caliz, Monica Prevett, local journalist Dion Vansen of The San Pedro Sun, and Derek Gilbert, who recently moved to the island from Colorado, USA.

Each bartender had ten minutes to prepare a signature cocktail. As each bartender worked on their drinks, the judges and public watched, testing them on the creativity and quality of the libations. Balona created a drink called the Shady Mule, followed by Pate with a cocktail named La Vida Es Un Carnaval. De La Rosa prepared his signature drink called El Sabor del Carnaval, and Munguia gave life to his Carnaval Bliss. The judges made their scores, and the winners were announced after handing them over to the tabulators.
In fourth place was Yoni de la Rosa winning $150. Winning third place was Carlos Balona taking home a cash prize of $300. Joseph Pate won second place and $500. The big prize of $1,000 was Elvi’s Kitchen Brandon Munguia with his drink, the Carnaval Bliss. All participants also received a case of Belikin beer.

The following Sunday, the carnival continued with powder and paint parties by the central park on Barrier Reef Drive. At the same time, the popular comparsas started on Pescador Drive (middle street). One participating comparsas included the Las Cubanitas, led by former Councillor Flor Ancona.
The fun of traditional festivity continues Monday and Tuesday with more comparsas groups joining the celebration. One of the participating dance groups is the Barbos, considered one of the highlights of the annual carnival. The activities usually start from 4PM until around midnight.

The El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro has been observed on the island for decades and is synonymous with the Mestizo tradition of ushering in the 40-day Lenten Season. The parties end with the burning of Don Juan Carnaval (the celebration’s patron) on Wednesday, February 22nd, by the beach.

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