And the winners are ...

The origin of the world's most recognized cocktail may be shrouded in a bit of stiff mystery, but for The MilkyWay's ever shakin' superior bartending staff, there's nothing mysterious about how to capture The Classic Martini title yet again. This year's fifth annual Martini Mix-Off concluded last Saturday with the announcement of the competition's official shaken-and-stirred winners.

Taking first place in the Original Martini category was bartender Sean Early of Bardenay, followed in second place by Jen Koble of Pair, and in third, by Kevin Farney of The MilkyWay. Picking up first place in the Classic Martini category was Kevin Farney of The MilkyWay, while Mark Allen of The Red Feather Lounge took second place and Jen Koble from Pair took third. Despite not having a first place to add to her list of Martini Mix-Off winning, Koble does have the distinction of being the only bartender to place in all three categories, as she took second place behind The Red Room's Michael Rowe in the Sponsor's Speciality Martini category, beating out third place Sean Early of Bardenay.

Chef Doug Williams of TableRock Brewpub and Grill won the judges' choice for Best Martini appetizer with his spin on a meatloaf potatoes. It can't be found on TableRock's menu, but just because a little dribble of drool never hurt anyone, here's what you missed out on: ground veal, lamb and Kobe beef sandwiched between two mashed potato cakes and drizzled with a white truffle oil and a fresh mango demi-glace. Ah, snap!

And since each and every participating venue had to not only serve up a drink worthy of the esteemed opinions of the experts but serve it in a place worthy of imbibing, this year's Mix-Off competition also included a Spirit Award. Pair led the pack, followed by The Red Room while TableRock Brewpub and Grill and The Red Feather Lounge duked it out for a third-place tie. And speaking of ties ... Mai Thai found itself as the sole runner-up in the Spirit Award category. Until next year, martini lovers ...

You Scream, I Scream And then we eat Ice Cream

The season's first Zoofari with Zoo Boise and Maggie Moo's Ice Cream is this Thursday, June 7, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Zoo Boise extends its hours on First Thursday throughout the summer, inviting the community in for a casual dinner and dessert while gawking at the zoo's collection of exotic (and, in some cases, not-so-exotic) wildlife. The special admission price of $7 for adults and $5.25 for children includes a hot dog, chips, a drink and ice cream from Maggie Moo's. And making the zoo even more fun for the evening will be musical entertainment and special feedings (for the animals, that is). Zoofaris also happen July 5 and August 2.

For more information, call (208)384-4125 or visit www.cityofboise.org/parks/zoo.

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