All-Star Mixology Competition Draws Support for Homeless Youth

Jonathan Del Arco, Kearran Giovanni, Bill Bedrossian, Ransford Doherty, Rene Rosado - H publicity 2016

A-list mixologist Alex Straus was among the competitors as 'Major Crimes' star Jonathan Del Arco and other actors and execs vetted the cocktails at the fourth annual Covenant House of California fundraiser.

Covenant House of California brought its All Star Mixology Competition (the fourth annual event) to a larger venue this year: the Hollywood Roosevelt. The poolside event featured cocktails from 10 of the country’s top barkeepers, including mixologists from Los Angeles hot spots The Corner Door, The Varnish, 213 Hospitality (Seven Grand, Honeycut, Las Perlas) and Alex Straus of craft spirits marketing group Cornerstone.

The event was co-chaired by film industry distribution execs Paul Hanneman (soon to exit 20th Century Fox) and Paramount’s Liza Pano, who initially got involved with the Hollywood-based nonprofit four years ago.

“I fell in love with these kids and the good work that Covenant House does and I immediately started to donate my time and resources,” Pano tells The Hollywood Reporter.

For the first time, this year’s party kicked off with a VIP reception. “There are so many benefits [in the industry] where it’s like you’re going to the same thing, sitting down at a round table — what’s great about this event is that it’s lighter, it’s outside, people are mingling and there’s a lot more freedom to interact,” says Pano.

The party kicked off with a cocktail tasting where guests were able to vote via text for their favorite drinks, which led to a final four Iron Chef-style live mixing competition with a secret ingredient: ginger.

Among the guests were members of the cast of Major Crimes (Kearran Giovanni, Rene Rosado, Ransford Doherty and Jonathan Del Arco) and its creator, James Duff, as well as Tanc Sade, Sterling Knight, Ayla Kell, Rachel McCord and Rick Shirmer. Sponsors of the night included The Hollywood Reporter, ABC-7, The Tasting Panel, Delta and Vortic watches, which created a special video countdown to time the competition.

“Covenant House is based right in Hollywood, and I know so many of us drive by these kids, or, you know … we see them and we don’t understand their plight, and why they’re there,” says Pano. “The most important thing is exposing our community — our Hollywood community and the entertainment community — to what’s in our backyard.”

The annual event raised funds (through extensive silent and live auction items) and awareness for Covenant House’s programs providing homeless youth with housing, counseling, medical care and employment.