Cocktail Wars Come To Newport, RI
Wednesday nights at the Gas Lamp Grille, bartenders battle it out.
Craft cocktails, like craft beers, have become a national trend and in a drinking town like Newport, you’re going to bet that there’s more than a few bartenders who think they’re a cut above the rest. Now Gas Lamp bartender John Begin has come up with a system to determine the best bartender in Newport: Cocktail Wars.
It’s a pretty simple concept, quite familiar to any of you who hit up Battle Chefs at Revolving Door or any cooking competitions on TV.
Bartenders are allowed access to juices, fruit, a soda gun, their choice of glassware and get to bring two secret ingredients…but they have no idea what the liquor will be until the start of the event.
Once the liquor is announced, the bartenders have 20 minutes to come up with a concoction on the fly. They provide free samples to the crowd, whose vote represents 25% of their total grade.
Then the contestants create their cocktail for each of a three-judge panel, who who determine the other 75% of the grade. Two of the judges are determined beforehand, but a third is picked at random from the crowd. (Have no misgivings, it’s a tough job…but someone has to do it.) Judges compare the contestants efforts, comparing appearance, presentation, flavor and creativity.
The top two bartenders move on to the next round where they’ll face even fiercer competition.
Last week was the first week and we were asked to judge the premiere event.
Before the event got started, the competitors were looking a little nervous. Here Ryan Kennedy (Revolving Door) and Victoria Bartolomei (Easton’s Point) have what the Blast Body Language Expert called “a defensive pose”.
There’s nothing like not knowing what your competition is going to do with an unknown liquor to stress someone out.
Fortunately, the liquor was announced, Skyy Blood Orange vodka and they were off.
Here’s what the bartenders created:
1. Ana Iannuzzi (Sticks Tavern, Glocester, MA)
2. Joe Saccoccia (Clarke Cooke House)
3. Ryan Kennedy (Revolving Door)
4. Victoria Bartolomei (Easton’s Point)
Funny story…the final results ended in a tie, so THREE bartenders are moving to the next round. Congrats to Ana, Ryan and Victoria!
Though it could be argued that the real winners were us:
The judges who got to enjoy all these cocktails.
-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Cocktail Correspondent