August 23, 2014

Elyria
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No hangovers after imbibing at annual Zero-Proof Mix-Off

Nevaeh Jackson, 7, and her little sister Jayda, 3, wait to try Starbucks’ “Vanilla Ice” Thursday at the Zero-Proof Mix-Off. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Nevaeh Jackson, 7, and her little sister Jayda, 3, wait to try Starbucks’ “Vanilla Ice” Thursday at the Zero-Proof Mix-Off. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Some events are designed to entertain and others are designed to inform.

The 12th annual Zero-Proof Mix-Off, a combination of drink competition and public service announcement, did both Thursday night at Lorain County Community College’s College Center.

Non-alcoholic drinks concocted by members of law enforcement and community organizations with names like Cloud 9 Whoopee, Helicopter Hootch and Principal’s Potion, were the stars of the night.

Each sip of the brightly colored red, blue or neon-green drinks were simple reminders of what a holiday celebration could be without alcohol. Images on a screen — most notably a photo of A.J. Vincent, who was killed by a drunken driver three years ago — let guests know what partying with alcohol and then driving can lead to.

Lilith Hood, 7, and her brother Angelous, 8, test out Lorain County Community College's Student Senate's mixed drink, Cloud 9 Whoopee.

Lilith Hood, 7, and her brother Angelous, 8, test out Lorain County Community College’s Student Senate’s mixed drink, Cloud 9 Whoopee.

“Statistics are more than numbers. They are people,” said Lt. Travis Hughes, commander of the Elyria post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

It may seem odd to some to host a party without beer, wine or cocktails, but maybe that’s because the thought of pairing apple juice and lemonade doesn’t readily come to mind the way it did for the Drug Free Coalition of Lorain County. Or no one realizes that using a one-of-a-kind base can thrill guests with a drink that has hints of ginger and cloves.

Fire and Ice was the name of that particular drink, mixed up by the Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress.

“It’s got to be the most unique drink here,” said C.H.I.P. President Tim Carrion. “Everyone takes a sip and takes a minute to figure out the flavors they taste.”

Carrion said his group took the competition seriously and even enlisted the help of a professional mixologist to make the falernum, a traditional Cuban syrup used to flavor drinks.

“We even made the alcohol version of this drink just to see if it was all that different and the taste was so similar to the zero-proof version I know that drink could still do well at a party,” he said.

Tim Carrion and Becky Rodriguez, both officers in The Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress. make a drink called 'Fire and Ice.'

Tim Carrion and Becky Rodriguez, both officers in The Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress. make a drink called ‘Fire and Ice.’

Others went a simpler route.

The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office went with a drink called Blue for You, a mix of blueberry-flavored drink mix, lemon-lime soda, white grape juice and vanilla ice cream.

“I’m a simple guy, so it’s a simple drink,” said Lt. Donald Barker. “We wanted to go with a drink that could easily be made at home and everyone could like.”

Kids may not like the drink created by the Elyria Fire Department but as the only savory drink of the 20 entered into the competition, it definitely stood out.

“We had to go with something fiery because, after all, we are firefighters,” said firefighter Dean Marks. “Think Bloody Mary, but without the kick.”

In the end, the winners may have all gone a different route with different special ingredients — red hot candies, Girl Scout cookies and coconut cream, to name a few — but they all had one thing in common:

None of them would result in tragedy if a driver overindulged in them before getting behind the wheel this holiday season.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

Winners of the 2013 Zero-Proof Mix-Off

Best Student Drink: Cloud 9 Whoopee
Lorain County Community College Student Senate

Best Presentation: Principal’s Potion
Elyria Community School

Best Name: Rehabilitini
Juvenile Mental Health Court

Best Taste: Twisted Tagalongs
Girl Scouts North East Ohio

People’s Choice: Pepper Spray
Lorain County Community College Police Academy

Best Overall: Merry Kiss-Mas
North Ridgeville Police Department

See Wednesday’s Accent page for more about the contest, including recipes.