The Paris of the Plains bartending competition sounds new, but it’s rooted in a local bartending contest that began in six years ago. Back then, co-founders Doug Frost and Ryan Maybee wanted to celebrate the growing professionalism of Kansas City’s bartending community.
By ANNE BROCKHOFF
And, boy, did they succeed. The competition has grown from a strictly local event to one that attracts entrants, sponsors and hundreds of spectators from across the country. This year, the dozen finalists include familiar KC faces as well as bartenders from Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
They’ll prepare their specialty cocktails onstage at the Uptown Theater on Aug. 26 (tickets are $25; see popfestkc.com/calendar for details). Contenders also will serve their cocktails in a tasting room open to ticket holders, make a challenge cocktail and demonstrate industry knowledge.
Here’s the final cut:
• Chris Burmeister, Goose and Bramble & Hare, Boulder, Colo.
• Chris Conatser, Justus Drugstore, Smithville (first place, 2008; third, 2009; second, 2010)
• Carol Donovan, Hearty Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
• Phoebe Esmon, Kennett South 2nd, Philadelphia, Pa.
• Giovanni Ferlaino, Ludivine, Oklahoma City
• Liz Pearce, Drawing Room, Chicago, Ill.
• Alberto Santoro, Extra Virgin, Kansas City (finalist, 2011)
• Matt Seiter, Sanctuaria, St. Louis (finalist, 2011)
• Travis Stewart, Port Fonda, Kansas City (finalist, 2010 and 2011)
• Jenn Tosatto, Rieger Hotel/Manifesto, Kansas City (finalist 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011)
• Paige Unger, Michael Smith Restaurant, Kansas City (finalist 2010 and 2011)
• Arturo Vera-Felicie, Farmhouse, Kansas City, (finalist 2008; first place, 2009)