If you attend the Kiwanis Best South Cape Martini Competition on Jan. 26 and have only the standard martini, you're only going to get one-third of the enjoyment.
Oh, you'll get the classic "eyeball on the highball" with the olive and toothpick your grandfather and James Bond enjoyed. But you'll miss some of the most exotic and delicious concoctions in all of downtown, from the Mystic Mango to one that tastes like a chocolate-covered pretzel.
One of the best things about the Best Martini competition, now in its seventh year, is that you are a judge.
"The guests get to vote. People sometimes stick around for a drink or have something to eat. It's a big night for the restaurants who participate," said Joe Coviello of the Cape Coral Kiwanis, which has run the event the last two years.
He added that it also provides another fund raiser for the organization to help the youth in the area. After expenses, the event is expected to raise around $10,000.
Guests will travel around the South Cape entertainment district on a special fleet of trolleys, stopping at the 10 participating establishments to relax with a cocktail and appetizer.
Tickets are now available for purchase at the these locations:
* Leapin Lizard, 1719 Cape Coral Pkwy E., 542-6400
* Ralph's Place, 1306 Cape Coral Pkwy E., 541-5484
* Dixie Roadhouse, 1023 SE 47th Terrace, 541-7900
* John Michael's Fine Jewelry, 1331 Cape Coral Pkwy E., 549-2099
* Cruiser's Lounge, 1517 SE 47th Terrace, 542-5533
* Chicago Pizza, 1341 SE 47th Terrace, 945-2262
* Monkey Bar, 1428 Lafayette Street, 549-8800
* Paradise Tiki Hut, 1502 Miramar Street, 540-8454
Ticket sales locations accept only cash or check made payable to: Cape Coral Kiwanis
At the end of the night, everyone votes on their favorites and a winner selected. There are three categories of martinis: classic, exotic and dessert.
And every participant feels their martini will take the day.
"I take it seriously. I use fresh fruits and hand squeeze them and many of them don't go that far," said Joanne Stevens of Ralph's Place, which has won the contest five times. "I'm going to make the Mystic Mango this year."
At 6:45 p.m. the "judges" will gather at Leapin' Lizard or near Ralph's Place in Big John's Plaza to obtain their wristband and passport. At 8, the trolleys will take them to the 10 different locations. The contest should be finished by 11.
The $20 ticket covers the transportation, martini samples, and appetizers, and you must be at least 21 years old.
For the businesses that take part, it is one of the busiest times of the year.
"It gives us exposure to people we otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to, who come into town just for the event," said Pam Randall of Chicago Pizza, which is participating for the third straight year. "Hopefully they'll buy something else or come back another time."
Designated driver tickets are also available on the date of the event for $10 for groups of two or more, and will be allowed to taste all the appetizers and have access to the trolleys, but no alcohol drinks.
If you partake a little too much, taxis will be available.
This is one of the premiere events held in South Cape, one that puts the spotlight on the nightlife downtown.
"My favorite part is seeing 1,000 new faces who may have never been to the south Cape saying I had no idea we had all these great businesses," said Helen Ramey of the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency.
Tickets are limited to 1,000 and have usually sold out long in advance. They can be picked up at numerous downtown locations.
As of press time, only 200 tickets remained unsold. Organizers urge those interested in attending to purchase soon while tickets are still available.