Cocktail smackdown

It comes down to one question: Are you #TeamGoldies or #TeamUrsaMajor?

Goldie’s AK and Ursa Major Distilling — two popular Fairbanks beverage spots known for their creative craft cocktails — are going head to head Saturday in a cocktail battle to see who serves up the best beverage in the Interior. The “cock fight,” as it’s being touted on social media, is an all day affair at Ursa Major with bands lined up to perform as well as an evening event featuring an amateur bartending contest.

It all started as good-natured ribbing between Kara Nash, owner of Goldie’s AK, and Rob Borland, owner of Ursa Major.

Goldie’s uses mostly Ursa Major’s spirits in Goldie’s cocktails, so some banter has always existed between Nash and Borland about which business makes the better cocktail.

“We always take Rob’s amazing liquor and mix it with things he’d never make at his place — it might be Tang, might be garnished with Peeps, might be a Popsicle,” Nash said. “In the meantime, he’s making classy cocktails at his place. This is just a friendly fun thing and a cool partnership but it’s also a competition. We want to win.”

With the cocktail battle set, Borland invited a few bands to perform and a food truck to set up with the idea of turning the day into a cocktail festival-type event that celebrates not only a good drink but also a good cause. After sampling each business’s cocktail, guests will vote for their favorite by dropping a poker chip into a bucket. The bucket with the most chips wins. Each chip represents a dollar, with Ursa Major giving their dollars to the Ester Community Association and Goldie’s AK giving their dollars to Goldstream Lion’s Club.

“That part is the winner,” Borland said.

Goldie’s AK is a mobile bar that hosts and caters events in Fairbanks with a catering permit. That permit is allowing Goldie’s to set up in Ursa Major’s parking lot for the competition. While the day has a festival atmosphere to it, there’s also a business model behind the cocktail battle. Nash, who also is an event planner, is using the event to feature Ursa Major’s spirits.

“What we wanted to do was bring the local products into the event world,” she said.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at

If You Go

What: Ursa Major Distilling vs. Goldie’s AK cocktail battle

When: Begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, events run to midnight

Where: Ursa Major Distilling, 2922 Parks Highway

FYI: For ages 21 and older. Entry is $10, which allows you to go and come as you please throughout the day.

Music and Events

2-4 p.m. — Matthew Read

4-7 p.m. — Poor Man’s Gun & File

7-9 p.m. — Open Cocktail Mix-Off

9 p.m. to midnight — Valley Below


HARD Eats food truck will be on site providing food options for purchase.

The Details and Mix-Off

Both pro and amateur bartenders are invited to compete for the title of best cocktail. Registration opens at 2 p.m. and is limited to the first 20 people, ages 21 and older, who sign up to compete.

At 7 p.m., the ingredients will be unveiled and you have 30 minutes to mix, shake, stir or muddle and make your signature cocktail.

At 7:30 p.m., a panel of judges will taste each signature cocktail and will choose four finalists to move on to the final round.

At 8 p.m., each finalist will mix their cocktails on stage. Judges will critique based on taste, creativity, use of ingredients and showmanship.

At 8:30 p.m., the awards ceremony starts and the best cocktail will be announced. The winner receives $200 cash, and prizes will be awarded to all the finalists.

For complete details, see Goldie’s AK or Ursa Major’s Facebook pages at or