Thursday, October 13, 2011

Masters of Mixology

Terry told me about a bartender's competition happening at Crave (4158 Conroy Road, next to Mall at Millenia). We agreed to meet there after work. I arrived first and found a spot next to the DJ where I overlooked the competition staging area. I started blocking in my sketch before the competition got started. Terry arrived and let me know that drinks were free for the first hour. Since I didn't have any place to put a drink down, I decided to go dry. Terry asked why I wasn't holding a drink and I explained, "It's a waste of a perfectly good hand." She let me sip a light blue concoction she was holding and it tasted like coconut. Yum... No, keep sketching.

Two beautiful women walked the room dressed as, perhaps wedding cakes or blue fairy princesses. They had glittering tiaras on their heads and carried platters with samples and a liquor bottle. The blonde woman gushed over my drawing when she saw it. My eyes darted about. I was too flustered to ask her what she was selling. Some journalist I turned out to be.

Ralph, the general manager at Crave, officiated the event. Colleen Burns from Yelp was one of the judges. I had seen her the day before at a Yelp Culture Club kickoff event the night before. The other judges were Sven and Olie. I envied their job of tasting unique drinks all night. The six bartenders were competing for a trip to Crave in Miami. The contestants were, Jake Berenson, Rob DeGiouine, Michelle Mariani, Aaron Christianson, Sarah Kaylor and Ashley Morin. In the first round the bartender working closest to me lined the martini glasses with streaks of chocolate. He was the first bartender to finish. The judges conferred and the contestants stood at their stations waiting for the results. The tension could be felt over the loud din of all the people shouting over the music at the bar. Jake was the top contender with 158 points. The top three bartenders moved on to the next round.

Terry had already left as soon as the free drinks stopped, which was before the first round of judging. When I finished the sketch, I realized I hadn't been great company for Terry. I opted not to do a second sketch. As I walked out, I asked Colleen to let me know who the winner was the following day. "The winner was Jake Bereson from Ember! He beat out Michelle Mariani by 1 point.", she wrote. I want to find out how to become a judge for drink tasting. I have some refined taste buds that are highly under utilized. As I walked alone through the rain to my truck, I realized I was thirsty.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Balaji Venugopal said...

A very readable post! I like Terry's line, "It's a waste of a perfectly good hand."

Thor said...

Perhaps if a drink could be holstered to my shoulder...