There’s nothing like strolling into your favorite bar, takin’ a seat and watching a great bartender go to work. Unless you go to the Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition on Sunday night, where you can see a dozen of the country’s best mix it up on Sunday night as they vie for the $1,750 in prize money, not to mention free press and bragging rights.
The event might feel familiar to those who’ve attending the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition over the past five years. The PoPFest version is again organized by Ryan Maybee of The Rieger/Manifesto, wine and spirits savant Doug Frost and Brandon Cummins, an all-around awesome cocktail dude. It’s again at The Uptown Theater. And there will again be a tasting room and food from local restaurants.
But this year, I promise you, it will be even bigger and better.
Finalists from Kansas City, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma will batch their drinks for the tasting room, and then make them onstage for the judges. They’ll also have to prepare a surprise classic cocktail (check out the Top 26 as chosen by Barsmarts) and demonstrate their industry knowledge.
The Farmhouse, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen, The American Restaurant, Local Pig, Chez Elle Creperie & Coffeehouse, Farm To Market Bread Co. and Gram & Dun are providing food. There will also be live music from Loaded Goat (a local band featuring The Drop’s Eddie Crane), The Late Night Callers and The Grisly Hand and burlesque performances, if you’re into that sorta thing. You get all that for $25, plus one free drink token.
Pernod Ricard USA’s sponsoring this year’s event, so it will be awash in brands like Absolut vodka, Jameson Irish whiskey, Chivas Scotch, Glenlivet single malt, Beefeater and Plymouth gin, Avion tequila and Kahlua liqueur.
Can’t wait to see what these finalists do with all that:
Chris Conatser, Justus Drugstore, Kansas City, Mo. (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, Okla.
Liz Pearce, The Drawing Room, Chicago, Ill.
Alberto Santoro, Extra Virgin, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist, 2011)
Matt Seiter, Sanctuaria, St. Louis, Mo. (finalist, 2011)
Travis Stewart, Port Fonda, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist, 2010 and 2011)
Paige Unger, Michael Smith Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist 2010 and 2011)
Arturo Vera-Felicie, The Farmhouse, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist 2008; first place, 2009)