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Drunken Spelling Bee comes to local cidery

Zach Coker, Anne Jessup and Hunter Stone Gambill put on the Drunken Spelling Bee at Local Cider & Angry Bear Mead

Greg Bollinger

If you were the spelling bee champion of your middle school, it’s time to polish your trophy and dust off your dictionary for one last job: Local Cider & Angry Bear Mead’s Drunken Spelling Bee. 

The cider-soaked spelling throwdown takes place on July 28 at Tulsa’s new cidery and meadery on E. 7th Street. The first event on March 28 featured 14 competitors and went 11 rounds, according to Anne Jessup, the beverage manager and event coordinator for parent brand Oklahoma Distilling Co. 

“It was the first time I had planned something from top to bottom, so there were a few rough spots when it came to pacing,” Jessup says. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to keep 14 adults steadily drinking and competing, but host Ryan Embree took it in stride.

“I was lucky enough to have a lot of friends turn out to compete and support, and our host Ryan Embree was perfect,” Jessup said. “I think he really made the event, honestly.” With Embree slotted to emcee again, Jessup expects this event to be even better than the first. Jessup and her crew throw in a few twists to the competition as well. “We had decided to make every sixth round a speed round, where competitors had 10 seconds to spell their word or they risked immediate elimination,” she says. “One woman forgot that information when she went up to the microphone to spell and was having a lot of fun taking her time bantering back and forth with Ryan, which was a fun thing to have to re-explain.”  

If you’re looking to get a leg-up, though, you won’t find any curated spelling lists online. Jessup chooses the words by hand. “The first list of words I made consisted of roughly 160 words, and took probably 5+ hours to put together,” she says. “I also asked a lot of my bar guests at the cidery and sat at my friends’ bars and asked them. So if anyone reading this has had a weird, tipsy, blonde girl ask them what words they always misspell, that was probably me!” 

In addition to bragging rights, all competitors will receive a participatory shot glass and spelling bee ribbon. “Between the two bees, I’ve probably logged 20+ hours of Googling and arts-and-crafts-ing,” Jessup says. “Shout out to Ashley Porter and Austin Ferrell for spending many of those hours with me glittering and hot gluing the dang things.”  

To sign up for the July 28 bee, email Jessup at anne@okdistilling.com, and show up at 5:45 p.m. before the event for a $10 pre-game tour of the distillery and a sample swig or two. Jessup and her team make one request to participants, other than to spell their hearts out: “Please drink and spell responsibly. We just put the word ‘drunken’ to get your attention. We love drinking cider, but we love being safe more.”

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Drunken Spelling Bee
Sun., July 28, 6–9 p.m.
Local Cider & Angry Bear Mead
1724 E. 7th St., Suite D

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