While coffee reigns supreme on weekdays, the Bloody Mary is the weekend go-to (particularly after a big night on the town). It's certainly a drink we're fond of here, in Park City. This Saturday during the inaugural Brunch at Altitude, talented local mixologists will go head-to-head in a Bloody Mary Smackdown to see who can come up with the best original recipe, on the spot, using fresh ingredients from Park City Farmer’s Market, vodka from Dented Brick, and handcrafted hot sauces from the Pepper Palace. Time to meet one of the competitors, Rachal Bonham of Collie's Sports Bar & Grill.
A transplant from the south, Bonham was born in Georgia and raised in Tennessee. Unsure of what to do after school, she took a river rafting gig offered by someone from her climbing team and fell in love with the white water. Five years ago, she made a pilgrimage to Park City to teach skiing (though she’s actually a snowboarder most days). "Since it was my first year, I figured I'd need a second job," says Bonham. "Collie's was one of the first places I brought my resume. I got a call the next day saying I was hired." Ironically, it was not Bonham's experience in serving or bartending that stood out, it was her job as a raft guide—a passion shared by the manager—that got her hired almost immediately. Eventually, the team at Collie's convinced her to ditch the job at the resort. Since then, she's worked full time at the bar. “One of the best things about working right here is that I can bring my snowboard down, grab my friend who works next door, hop on Town Lift, shred for two or three hours, and then come into work,” says Bonham. “I think people here are sometimes over getting after it if there isn't a fresh foot of snow. I still get out every day. Maybe it’s because I’m from the south, but I don’t care whether it’s bombing groomers or shredding powder, it’s what I’m here for.” Another favorite aspect of working at the bar for Bonham: the chance to dress up in costume on the job.
Initially, Bonham stayed in Park City seasonally, coming out for the snowy winters and heading back to Tennessee to raft white water during the summers. This year, however, she took the plunge, becoming a full-time Utah resident. “I love it here, I have no intention of ever moving back south,” says Bonham. With her trusty four-year-old pup Dobby (named after the house elf in Harry Potter), Bonham spent her first summer in Park City this year, exploring the area on mountain bike, reveling in the crisper fall air and incredible colors, and taking the occasional river excursion to nearby destinations like the Snake, Yampa, and Green.
So what can we expect from Bonham for the Bloody Mary Smackdown? Although she’s admittedly a sucker for anything with tequila, she is excited about the prospect of whipping up an original Bloody Mary. “I actually didn’t like Bloody Marys for a long time, but one morning when I had a really bad hangover, someone gave me the one we make here (at Collie’s) and now I’m a fan,” says Bonahm. “That being said, I am picky. We make them all fresh here, so if you’re serving up just vodka with V8 juice and tabasco, I’ll pass. A good Bloody Mary has to be fresh and you need to use a little creativity. Personally, I prefer ones that aren't too spicy and love a pickle garnish.”
You can cheer Bonham on Saturday, September 22 at the Brunch at Altitude (tickets here). During the winters, you'll find her working at the bar six days a week; the rest of her time is spent on the mountain.