Sidetrack the last two years.
“It always looked like so much fun and it definitely looked like something in my wheelhouse,” Godek said. “I watched friends of mine compete and learned from what they did both right and wrong.”
The Chicago finals in the 6th annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic were held May 11 at Sidetrack – and Godek was participating this time, representing The Call.
And he won.
Godek edged Nicholas Smith from Sidetrack in the closest battle of bar stars in the event’s history, Stoli representatives said.
“I’m happy to finally have a chance to show the world what I can do and I’m grateful for this showcase,” said Godek, 30, lives in Boystown after growing up in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, attending McHenry West High School and then Northern Illinois University.
He has worked at The Call since February, but has long been behind the bar serving Chicago’s LGBT community countless drinks. He has worked at Charlie’s Chicago, Sidetrack, Touche’ and Bobby Loves before coming to the Call. He also had brief work stops at Roscoe’s, Jackhammer, Progress, Spin, Hunter’s, Club Krave, The North End and elsewhere.
“I’ve always had a great time seeing the creativity of my Chicago industry friends. This was one of my favorite days to work at Sidetrack and it felt so great to go back and win it there,” Godek said. “It seemed like the stars aligned this year for me and it was finally my time. Loud. Fun. Vibrant. Festive. Tacky. Extra. Energetic. Creative. All words that have been used to describe me and my style of bartending and entertaining. The theme this year is ‘Visibility: Make it loud and clear,’ and I am so happy to represent that for the people of Chicago. It just seemed preordained, like fate.”
Godek heads to Key West, Florida next month to represent Chicago at the 6th annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finals. He will compete against about 20 other LGBT and LGBT-allied bartenders to win $10,000 for his chosen charity at the Key West Cocktail Classic Pride Week Finale.
The Cocktail Classic celebrates the role that gay bars have played as original community centers and the LGBT and ally bar stars who continue to raise the bar for equality today.
The 2019 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic honors the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York, a pivotal series of protests in the gay right’s movement.
The winning bartender at the finals in Key West in early-June will serve as the Honorary Grand Marshall of Key West Pride 2019, and also receive a trophy, sash, and a trip to a North American city around another Stoli weekend event, and more.
Godek edged three Chicago bar stars: Zack Hudson (representing Cell Block), Nicholas Smith (Sidetrack) and Alejandro Zamudio (Kit Kat).
“I’m so excited to go to Key West. I’ve never been and I hear amazing things from my friends like Joe Lewis, Calvin Drent, and Norbert Greenwood, all of whom have won this contest and visited in the past,” Godek said. “Part of the contest was demonstrating a knowledge of somewhere I haven’t been before, so I am stoked to see things like the 7 Mile Bridge, turtle hospital, and (the) only living coral reef in the U.S. that I just studied and told Chicago about.”
Godek said his shifts at The Call are a little fluid at the moment, mostly because he is new there. “I host and bartend a weekly Show tune and musical night every Wednesday with tons of costumes, hats, dancing, singing, shots, and happy vibes. Show tunes have always my heart, so that project and night is my baby,” he said.
“Additionally I work Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays during the daytime and am constantly involved in all of the fun and changing events like our bi-weekly Tuesday video and board ‘Gayyyme Night,’ Drag Race viewing parties, live band nights, burlesque shows, and more.”
Godek concocted a Stoli-ito for the Chicago finals, which he presented in a stiletto while also wearing stilettos. Key West, of course, is well known for its oversized stiletto that drops every December 31 to ring in the New Year.
“Being a marketing major, it was important to make something marketable. (The drink) is similar to a mojito representing the Cuban influences (in) Key West with a few twists, most notably, Stoli Lime vodka instead of rum. It is also pink and served in a cocktail glass attached to a stiletto shoe. Anything worth doing right is worth doing in heels.”
Godek’s Stoli-ito is made with 1.5 ounces of Stoli Lime, muddled then shaken fresh mint leaves, 0.5 ounces of simple syrup (sugar), 0.5 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail for color, ice, and soda water to fill.
“My motivation for this drink comes from a song from a show tune in the late 1950s: Think Pink from Funny Face,” Godek said. “That song inspires that everything should be pink. Also, I was very inspired by the New Year’s Eve party in Key West. I’m bringing a drink I think the people of Key West will enjoy and can get behind.
“I had so much fun (at the Chicago finals) with the other contestants, judges, coworkers, local drag race stars, sports teammates and, of course, having my friends and family there meant the world. Having everyone there to cheer me on was such an amazing feeling.”
Godek said he was all-nerves heading in, and actually couldn’t sleep the night before.
“My roommate convinced me I had brought oregano instead of fresh mint because the packaging said ‘ORGANIC’ in big letters and it really threw me for a loop. Despite having the correct ingredient, I was shook and didn’t sleep,” he said. “During the contest I felt very confident that I had done everything in my power to compete well. I set myself up for success and was happy at how it all turned out. My garnish failed right before the presentation and I just had to roll with the punches. I was a little shaken with nerves at first, but have always felt at home on a stage with an audience. Once I started receiving feedback and energy from the people watching around me and saw myself on all of the television screens I knew I was home.
“Days (after the finals), I’m still on cloud-nine; it’s wonderful to have won something fun and large like this. People keep smiling, hugging me and congratulating me. They are excited for this drink and excited for me. I’m lucky to have so much support here in Chicago and I’m excited to let the rest of the world see what I can do. I’m also so excited to be serving them to everyone at The Call and watching their eyes light up as they taste it.”
Godek sported bright yellow, size-13 stilettos at the Chicago finals.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I feel very comfortable in all sorts of loud accessories,” he said. “I strive to be a clown and bring smiles to everyone around me by being just a little extra. Wearing stilettos is nothing new to me and gave me that extra I needed. High heels are the battle armor for anyone out, loud, proud, and visible in 2019, but they are nothing new.”
He will be stiletto-wearing in Key West, definitely.
“It was a nail-biter ending, for sure. Nick and Sidetrack put up a great fight as did the other contenders. I know my drink is marketable and easy to make across the country. There was never a doubt in my mind that I could do this and that the world would love the Stoli-ito. I’m excited to prove it in Key West in June.
Key West is more like Disney World to Godek, he admitted.
“I may add a few new twists and gimmicks (in the Key West finals) because that’s what I do, but I really think my drink stands up for itself. Its flavor, name, and signature stemware put it leaps and bounds above other drinks in its class and I’m excited to introduce it to the rest of the marketing team at Stoli,” he said. “I have the Chicago flag tattooed on my arm. I happily and proudly to represent the city I love everywhere I go. I’m excited to be our contestant and I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love and support I’m receiving from the city, especially all my industry friends in Boystown and Andersonville. It feels so great to have them all on my side cheering me on.”
If he wins, Godek said his chosen charity for the donation is the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN).
Drinks With …Robb Paul Godek
Sports: “I love to watch the Chicago Cubs, but I love to play volleyball and dodgeball in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA) leagues.”
Favorite Actor and Actress: “Natalie Portman and Harrison Ford capture my attention in everything that they do. I am a huge Star Wars nerd, but those actors can sell any type of movie to me any time because of their empathic talent.”
Favorite Musician: “Too many to list. I just love to dance. I have a very eclectic music pallet from country to classic rock, show tunes to symphonies and everything in between.”
Celebrity You’d Most Like To Meet: Ellen DeGeneres
Favorite TV Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Movie: Empire Strikes Back
Little-known Fact: “My favorite song is, Rainbow Connection by Kermit The Frog.”
Relationship Status: Is single
Boxers or Briefs: “I really enjoy walking my dog around my neighborhood commando, in grey sweatpants. Other than that, I’m a briefs boy. Often something nerdy with a Star Wars storm-trooper on it.”