Call her the cats meow

By Luke Allen Hackney

Melissa Inky Kim emerges victorious in Cocktail Wars

The Cocktail Wars raged on for six weeks, as 32 contestants duked it out in numerous area bars. But only one bartender emerged victorious at the final showdown on Feb. 28.

That would be Melissa “Inky” Kim, the 32-year-old bartender from The Chrome Cat.

Though officially tending bar for just over a decade, Kim began learning the craft early on as a direct result of her family owning an alcohol distributorship. “By the time I was 10 I had a perfect pour,” she said.

Kim said the contestants had to create a drink of their own and were judged on style, presentation, pour (how well the ingredients were mixed) and, most important, how it tasted. Half their points were awarded based on the latter.

Kim appropriately named her winning concoction the “Hell Cat.” The rim was covered in blue raspberry sugar and the retro-candy Pop Rocks; the glass was filled with 151 and Banzai Energy Drink, and the drink was set ablaze. Contestants were welcome to change their recipe as the battle went on.

Toward the end, Kim didn’t change much about the drink, but added a story to the mix. The story: An often down-on-his-luck alley cat lost his final life after painting his fur green — with anti-freeze. An attempt to get through the gates of Heaven proved futile, even after speaking with the Patron Saint of Forgiveness, and the kitten got sent to Hell.

At this point in the story, Kim’s “Hell Cat” would go up in flames.

Her drink and presentation wowed judges, winning her $500 from Tripper’s (where the final round was held), a threemonth tanning package and a round trip to Las Vegas to visit the Nightclub and Bar Convention and Tradeshow this week.

More important for her, Kim said, was the idea of winning as a representative of The Chrome Cat, where she’s been since it opened last year.

“We’re a tight-knit group,” she said. The Old Town bar has struggled, Kim said, noting that several employees even worked pro bono for a few months to help bring up the bar’s revenue.

“It was nice to bring (the trophy) home personally for The Chrome Cat,” she said.

Cocktail Wars was co-sponsored by City Pulse and Banzai Energy Drink.