Behind the Scenes: Fantasy Bartending

Like many downtown San Luis Obispo traditions, Fantasy Bartending at Bull’s Tavern creates a lot of buzz among Cal Poly students. This multi-round competition allows students to try their hand at bartending for a night.

My group discovered through our social media outreach that although many students had heard of Fantasy Bartending, there are a lot of questions surrounding what the competition entails. To answer these questions, my group decided to follow a team of Cal Poly students through an entire night as student bartenders.

Additionally, our backgrounder provided us some additional information to guide our reporting process. Our group noticed that no local news sources, including Mustang News, had covered a story on Fantasy Bartending which provided us an opportunity to cover the topic for the first time. Our group researched Mustang News articles with similar topics and drew inspiration from a Mustang News article about the 21st bar crawl downtown tradition.

Nicole Cullop and Adele Looper were the perfect duo to follow around to capture the true Fantasy Bartending experience. The team had the most incredible energy as they geared up for their second round of the competition. Our group was shocked at how invested the two girls were in making night as student bartenders into an all out experience they would never forget.

“We’re both pretty competitive and it’ll honestly boost our ego,” Cullop said.

Haley Pryde, team videographer, got the chance to follow Nicole and Adele around for the entire night including to their pre-game as they got into costume.

“This project was super fun and I loved getting to report on something that is so unique to the slo community. The girls I interviewed were so spirited and I loved hearing their perspective on this competition.”

Melissa Eisele, team member in charge of the interactive components, had a similar experience following this dynamic duo around for the night.

“It was such an interesting experience taking photos of people who were at a pregame. I felt like I got a cool insight into the lives of people at Cal Poly, and what it was like at a pregame for fantasy bartending.”

This story topic had our group excited from the beginning, but covering this story did prove to be a challenge. Our group struggled with gaining access to Bull’s Tavern due to concerns from their management team. This road block made it necessary for my group to get creative in thinking of ways to tell this story.

Kenzie Nicoli, team writer, thought the process of pulling together this story was difficult but ultimately rewarding.

“This story was a lot more challenging to bring together than I thought it was going to be. Contrary to popular belief, writing about fun and games isn’t actually all fun and games. With that being said I’m glad we were able to tell this story and throughout the process I kept in mind the fact that if I was a Cal Poly student with no relation to Mustang News, this is a story I would definitely find myself reading.”