One among "Men"y: Grid Girl Wins Midtown Cocktail Competition

By Chantel Elder

Dominique Gonzales was the winner of the cocktail competition hosted at Red Lotus last night.  We went to cover the event and of course enjoy the cocktails but were totally surprised to find that only one female was competing among nine men for the best punch bowl cocktail title.  We were rooting for our one and only Grid Girl and apparently the judges were as delighted with her beverage as much as we were.  We snagged Dominique and she happily agreed to let us pick her brain a bit….

Name: Dominique Gonzales

Tending Bar currently at: Shady Lady Saloon & Zocalos

How long have you been bar tending?

3 years

Where do you get your inspiration for new creations?

Every time its so different. Depends on what’s in season, what people are doing around me, or even just taking a walk down the street to get inspired by what’s going on. 

Do you have a bartender that you just adore and look to in the industry?

My old boss Joe Anthony is always an inspiration for his palette and knowledge. There’s a lot of good talent all around me at Shady and I really look up to many people that work there. From the kitchen to the bar and even management, there’s always some one captivating my attention. 

Favorite local bar besides place of employment:

Some how I always find myself at 58 degrees. Good wine, ambiance, and culinary cuisine always has me coming back. 

What is your favorite drink?

To Drink: Negroni

To Make: Classic Cocktails

What is your least favorite drink?

To Drink: Mojito

To Make: Mint Julep when I’m busy.  

It is a Friday night and you aren’t behind the bar, where can you be found?

Any sushi bar in town but I usually stay pretty loyal to Kru or the Shoki Ramen House.  

What is the weirdest/most ridiculous thing you have seen working behind the bar?

My coworkers are probably the weirdest of them all and my regulars keep it pretty ridiculous all the time. 

If you weren’t a bartender you would probably be….

In the kitchen. 

Who would you like to have a drink with?

David Wondrich 

Tell us a little bit about your winning punch bowl recipe.  How did you come up with it?  Can you share the recipe and or tips?

I actually got my inspiration on a drive home to Sacramento on the back roads of Willows, CA. Having bourbon as my spirit and passing by Buffalos, wild flowers, and dirt roads the thought of backyard family tea all crossed my mind. Growing up with country music all around me I just had to do this one as country as possible. I also wanted to create a punch that you could do from things you might find in the backyard by keeping it seasonal. Kentucky; known as the bluegrass state just had the perfect name for what I was going for.  

Backyard Bluegrass Recipe:

Infused granulated sugar

-lavender, grapefruit peels, lemon peels, & orange

and let sit for 3 days.

Buffalo trace bourbon

Black tea

Cantaloupe juice

Apricot juice

Fresh lemon juice

Rothman & winter orchard apricot liquor


Topped with candied cinnamon oranges.

Who was your biggest competitor at the event?

There’s always so much talent and creativity when it comes to these things. There isn’t a person that competes that doesn’t bring something unoriginal to the table. I will be honest though, Chris Tucker and Chris Dooley will always bring the heat. I’m just grateful enough to get to learn from them. 

Best thing about being a female bartender?

It’s pretty fun working in such a creative environment and hanging with all the guys. I think most people believe that bartending is a man’s world but I’d like to shake that up a little bit. 

Worst thing about being a female bartender?

I think the most important part of female bartending is being firm at times, having a level professionalism and respect for yourself.

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