It's never-ending superlative voting season in Richmond, and you can wager your widget factory that some sort of best-of list is headed your way from one various media outlet or another (insert plug for Style Weekly's 2013 Best of Richmond Readers' Poll right about here). By now it's nearly year-round. Richmond.com alone poops out a random new poll every five minutes or so.
Do people want to win? Let's just say it's the nuclear winter of get-out-the-vote campaigns. Competition escalates faster than Kim Jong-un's passive-aggressive arms race from his well-appointed pad in Pyongyang. The nominees face off like one long, poorly lighted awards reception wasteland where everyone staggers around pretending to like each other. The bottom-shelf cash bar is in the corner and there's a line. Trust me, there's always a line.
For whatever reason, this town just loves to vote on stuff — and I'll admit, I'm no stranger to the hoopla. So while Style's Best of Richmond Readers' Poll likely will end up being a reliable indicator of RVA's tastes, the following list are my personal voting recommendations and will be anything but. (And remember, completely biased and unfair opinions are what superlative voting is all about. Voting based strictly on ability or quality of product denotes poor form.)
Best Local Beer: I don't drink much beer and in the past I may have been unfair to the people who worship the stuff — I may have referred to them once as "elitist hop-munching pricks" — but recently my friend Rachael Cardwell at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery gave me a 750-milliliter bottle of the brewery's new Sidamo Coffee Stout, and it was pretty tasty. So that's what I've been drinking recently to "pump the brakes." The brakes usually need pumping after I go cross-eyed from all the Hendrick's gin. While I don't recommend drinking like me, I do recommend you try the Hardywood Sidamo.
Richmonder Most Likely to Be the Next Bachelor: City Auditor Umesh Dalal. "The U-Dog" puts the sex in "tax code regulatory statement filing." I joke. My actual pick would be Flying Squirrels carnival barker and Richmond celeb Todd "Parney" Parnell. He'd give 'em all roses and then have a naked hot tub party. "Ladies, ladies, relax — there's plenty of the big Parn dog to go around."
Best New Marketing Campaign for a Local Restaurant: Jorge's Cantina. Forthcoming Mexican joint logo features a Pancho Villa mustache on George Washington? They're calling him Hor-hey? Is that a sombrero on his head?! I can't tell if this is racist to George or Mexicans, or both. Does any of this translate into a good restaurant? That remains to be seen, but I'm certainly not uninterested by the early and somewhat wacky buzz. It takes real balls to desecrate a Founding Father, and you have to respect that.
Runner-up: New Restaurant Marketing Campaign: The Rogue Gentlemen. Super-secret speak-easy opening somewhere in Jackson Ward. They've been sending out all sorts of clues and hints to build the buzz. I think they even hired a little nattily attired carnie to deliver the clues because, why not? Expect the Rogue Gent to offer ol' timey craft cocktails and expect every bartender to dress like a Civil War-era haberdasher.
Best Local Newscaster: WRIC-TV 8's Juan "Mutha-Effin" Conde. I'm biased because we're friends, but ignore that. Let me ask you: Who doesn't like it when their trusted newsperson says unspeakably filthy things off-air? Not I. Plus, I just can't see NBC-12's Ryan Nobles talking about tossing salad. Of course, I don't know him that well. He might always talk about tossing salad.
Best New Dish: The chorizo-stuffed chinchilla lung drizzled with baby-lamb bile at "insert hot new restaurant here." Why is this town so obsessed with food? I like good food — everyone does — but many Richmonders make the act of eating their life's pursuit. And here I thought it was just one of those things that people did to sustain life. Smugly leave this category blank, or just make up a dish like I did.
Best Local Politician: Mayor Dwight Jones. I don't care much for his actual policies, but his style? Ice cold. Big Boi would say Freddy Jackson sippin' a milkshake in a snowstorm-cold. That's a smooth man. A man of the lord and the ladies. I guarantee our mayor has owned either an El Dorado or a Brougham at some point in his life. He probably listens to a lot of Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding — on vinyl, obviously. He definitely only drinks out of a really expensive rocks glass — the type of rocks glass you can shatter a man's skull with. And you know it's tastefully patterned Egyptian silk boxers — all day, every day.
Best Bartender in Town: Leave this category blank also. Winning this is like being named the best ditch digger in town, he said with a sneer as he wrote his own name in.
Now press that tux, put on a winning smile, get that elbow cocked and keep those palms dry — it's time to go out and schmooze. More importantly, it's time to blow anyone and everyone. And remember, blow early and blow often.
Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.
Editor's note: In the print version of this story we misspelled the name of Hardywood Park's Rachael Cardwell. Style regrets the error.