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Local women bartenders compete in Speed Rack competition Sunday at the Madrid

04/03/2014 7:00 AM

04/04/2014 11:47 AM

The Negroni, Old Fashioned, Boulevardier, Bee’s Kneesdelicious cocktails all. But can you make all four? In about three minutes? The women competing in Speed Rack (

) can, and you can see them in action this Sunday at the Madrid Theater.

The event, one of the national speed bartending contest’s regional rounds, will showcase 21 of the best bartenders in six states. The winner will go on to the finals in New York in May. The point? First, to showcase female bartending talent. Second, to raise money for breast cancer research, which it has done to the tune of more than $150,000 since the event’s inception in 2011.

Speed Rack-KC begins runs from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 6. For more information and to purchase tickets ($20 in advance), go to Speed Rack-KC ( The after party at 403 Club on Monday, April 7 begins at 7 p.m. and includes free punch from Samogon and Stiletto Vodka (

). Suggested donation of $5 to $10 at the door. For details, search for SpeedSack KC!!! on Facebook. All proceeds will be donated to breast cancer charities.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward breast cancer awareness, and I don’t think there’s any other competition out there like that,” says Paige Unger, a bartender at Extra Virgin ( and Michael Smith (

), who won the St. Louis regional in 2013 and is back in the running this year.

Other local competitors include: Caitlin Corcoran, bar manager, Port Fonda (; Rachel Freeman, bartender, The Chesterfield Bar ( in the Alamo Drafthouse; Carisa Lynch, bar supervisor, Bar Rosso ( in the Hotel Sorella; Margot Thompson, bartender, the Farmhouse (; Jenn Tosatto, bar manager, the Rieger Hotel Grill Exchange (; and Katy Wade, bartender, the Rieger Hotel Grill Exchange and Manifesto (


Speed Rack isn’t just about speed, though. Bartenders received a list of 50 cocktails ahead of time, and any four of those can be called for during each timed round. Drinks are then evaluated by a panel of judges and time added for any number of faults, from being too tart or incorrectly garnished to containing the wrong ingredients.

Judges include Ryan Maybee, co-owner of Manifesto and the Rieger Hotel Grill Exchange and co-founder of the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival (; Doug Frost (, a Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, co-founder of PopFest and Kansas City Star contributor; Sean Kenyon, barman and owner of Williams Graham ( in Denver; and Misty Kalkofen, director Vino de Mezcal for Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal ( Chris Patino, director of trade education for Pernod Ricard USA (

) will host.

So, you can go to cheer on one of your favorite bartenders. You can go because you support the cause. And you can also go because it promises to be a memorable event. Tickets are $20 ahead of time and $25 at the door, and with that you get not only the show onstage, but also a party with samples of nine or so punches prepared with sponsors’ brands, tastings from Del Maguey and other perks.

“It’s like the roller derby of cocktail competitions,” says Lynnette Marrero, who co-founded the event with fellow New York bartender Ivy Mix. “It’s exciting to watch these empowered, strong females in this crazy, high octane competition.”

Certainly Kansas City’s bartending community is set to put on a show. Unlike Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities invited to host regionals, KC outvoted other possibilities in an online “wild card” voting battle. Volunteers are now gearing up to host Speed Rack, as well as a Speed Sack after party on April 7 at the 403 Club (


“This is huge,” Berto Santoro, bar manager at Extra Virgin, said during a recent meeting of the Kansas City chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild. “This is the largest event we’ve put together outside of PopFest.”


Speed Rack provides contestants with a list of 50 cocktails, including this one, that the panel of four judges can request during the early rounds.

Makes 1 drink

1 ounce Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce Martini Italian vermouth

orange twist, for garnish

Fill a mixing glass partway with ice. Add bourbon, Campari and vermouth. Stir until chilled, strain and serve either up or on the rocks. Garnish with orange twist.

Source: Speed Rack


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