Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Bartender battle is on!

The Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition returns to The Uptown on Aug. 21. A dozen of the region’s best bartenders will battle it out onstage, in front of what has been in years past a happily raucous crowd. Each must prepare an original cocktail for a panel of judges (including Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail), batch the same drink for the tasting room, fill the panel’s classic cocktail request and answer a handful of questions.

Again there will be sponsors offering samples (The Roasterie, Boulevard, SodaVie, or Original Juan’s). Again there are local restaurants providing food. Again there are bands in the Nowhere Lounge. Again Hendrick’s gin is a big-time sponsor. And again it’s an event anyone who’s appreciates a good drink shouldn’t miss.

I’ve covered the GKCBC for the Kansas City Star each of its five years, and each year I’m blown away by how much bigger and better it’s gotten. But, as co-founder Ryan Maybee says, the coolest part is how our thirst for good cocktails has grown with it.

He writes: “It’s a little surreal thinking back to 2007 when Doug (Frost) and I had that first meeting to discuss the idea at Broadway Café over an espresso.  At that point, Manifesto didn’t exist, there wasn’t a Kansas City Bartenders Alliance, and relatively no one could put the concept of a local ‘cocktail culture’ into a realistic context.”

How things have changed. And definitely for the good. To see for yourself, spring for the $15 ticket and get yourself to The Uptown.