The management at Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles really knows how to hold a customer’s attention. This spring, the group put the summer menu into the hands of its patrons with a “People’s Cocktail Contest,” allowing amateurs and professionals — and every level in between — to submit their favorite recipes for potential inclusion on the bar’s upcoming cocktail menu. But there was a twist: The contest was held on Twitter.
Employees announced a secret ingredient, such as Fernet Branco or gin, on the social networking site each week for four weeks starting in mid-May. In the confines of 140 characters or less, competitors had to tweet their favorite original recipes involving that ingredient and end their tweet with the hashtag #pplscocktail. Each Friday, the winner was announced via Twitter (@DragoCentro), and the final four will compete in a mix-off at the venue; at press time, the finalists had been announced, but Michael Shearin, beverage director and sommelier at Drago Centro, still keeps his customers on their toes about the finals, ensuring they follow closely on Twitter to get contest updates.
The clientele at Drago Centro, which features an extensive list of classic spirits, beers and about 40 Italian wines by the glass, is largely young professionals and executives from the LA financial district as well as cocktail aficionados, many of whom are active on the social networking site.
“The idea is completely driven by Twitter, which has been very instrumental in driving our bar business,” says Shearin. The contest “has been covered by many online publications but is still completely driven by Twitter. The response in the local online community has been outstanding, with coverage by bloggers, websites and some publications. It helps keep Drago Centro in the news and buzzworthy, so to speak.”