Posts Tagged ‘Speed Rack’

TAKE THE PLUNGE

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Embrace an icy cold refreshing jump into a pool to raise funds for the Museum of the American Cocktail
By Francine Cohen

You’ve been known to prattle on about ice and the various merits of its size, shape and quality. You can wax poetic about pellet ice, clear 1 x 1 cubes, crushed, avoiding bubbles, hand chipped ice, etc. and will, when given the chance. Now, at 4:00 PM on July 26th during Tales of the Cocktail, you can channel your inner polar bear and put your money where your mouth is, all by taking part in the Macallan Ice Ball Plunge — a refreshing way to raise some much needed funds for The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC – www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org).

Why jump into a cold pool in the name of scotch and a museum? Well, besides the fact that it’s going to be warm in New Orleans and a quick dip will sure feel nice, you’ll be doing some good for the cocktail community and culinary history aficionados everywhere. MOTAC, which is currently housed within the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (www.southernfood.org) in New Orleans’ Riverwalk complex, is about to move to a more permanent home and needs your help to do so.

Laura McMillian, Managing Director, Museum of the American Cocktail explains, “The museum has to move December 2012 to a new location. The fundraising is to finance the move itself and the build out. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, our partner, has purchased a historically significant building in the Faubourg Lafayette which was the old Dryades Market. The new museum will be on the corner of Oretha Castle Haley and Martin Luther King Blvd in a 39,000 square feet facility. This area will be the Culinary Corridor of New Orleans and it is only three blocks off of the St. Charles streetcar line. It is in one of the four corridors New Orleans has slated for growth and federal funding and grants.”

While the federal government is contributing some funding to assist in MOTAC’s development they won’t underwrite everything, thereby giving you a hands-on chance to support a piece of American history and help rebuild a city. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity you’ll cherish; hopefully as much as we cherish the memory of our private tour of the museum just a week before it officially opened in

Read the rest of this entry »

SUPPORT THE RACK!

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Speed Rack Finals in New York City
By Amanda Schuster
Photos courtesy of Speed Rack

On Thursday, May 10th, Yael Vengroff (Miss Speed Rack NYC, and now a Houston, Texas resident) won the title of Miss Speed Rack 2012 to the collective rapture of what seemed like the entire US drinks community, all gathered at the Prince George Ballroom. In the final round, Vengroff narrowly beat fellow Texan Alba Huerta in a tense smackdown.

While the showing on the stage was great, so were the onlookers, other participants, competitors and the audience. Suffice it to say, if there had been some sort of unspeakable catasclysmic event there, much of the country would go awfully thirsty. The biggest names in the bar business were representing as judges, barbacks, and sponsors, not to mention those who attended simply to cheer on their friends and colleagues to support the cause.

The cause goes far beyond Speed Rack’s mission of showcasing some of the best talent possessing XX chromosomes in the country, it also raises significant funds for breast cancer prevention, education and research. To date, $68,500.00. This event, which was created and executed by Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, two of the founding members of the New York chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), has built a nationwide community while doing an outstanding job of spotlighting the female bartenders who are pivotal forces behind our new golden era of cocktail culture. Without people like them, and pioneers such as bar owners and Speed Rack event judges Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders, a lot of us would still be consuming syrupy neon sludge from a gun as our only option, and probably not having too much fun where we drink it either.

For decades, women have worked hard to achieve this level of respect in the bartending community. Physically seeing the culmination of this progress together in one place proves how integral women have been to this business. Said Reiner as the night began, “We’ve come a long way, baby! Now there’s so many of you and it’s so inspiring. [I’m] So proud of Ivy and Lynnette.”

In a relatively short amount of time, Marrero and Mix have done a tremendous job assembling this level of talent and garnering supporters. As judge Dale DeGroff pointed out during the intros, “This is the biggest thing [of its kind] in America right now.” Degroff, who is considered one of the most important mentors in the business, has often pointed out that women are key facets of creating successful bar communities with their instinctive talents for creating recipes and cultivating a welcoming atmosphere for guests.

The Speed Rack tour was a guest in 10 key cities around the country. In each town they visited local female bartenders were put to the test to determine which was the fastest and who would travel to New York to compete in the final showdown. Competitors raced head-to-head to prepare four cocktails, one for each of the judges.

Sponsored brands donated the ingredients, and also libations with which audience members sipped along with Speed Rack finale judges Reiner, Saunders, and DeGroff plus Chopped judge, and first time cocktail competition judge, Chef Amanda Freitag.

Top talents also contributed barbacking duties, including Sean Kenyon (Denver), Ricky Gomez (Portland), Jeff Bell (NYC), Dominic Venegas (NYC), Michael Neff (NYC), Toby Maloney (NYC), Steve Schneider-Hadzismajlovic and Daniel de Oliveira (Chicago) while industry instigators Simon Ford and Chris Patino, clad in all white suits, kept the proceedings, er, staying alive, as emcees.

The cocktails were randomly chosen by the judges from a list of fifty standard recipes. Speed counts, but so does flavor and technique. Saunders’ critique can be especially discerning (said of a garnish in Round One: “…it was like the sinking of the Titanic!”), which is why she announced that once the competition is over, she can revert to a more nurturing style of support and encouragement. “How this thing has grown! I’m looking forward to going easier on you. I want to see some of you ladies step up and own your own bars.”

Freitag, who originates from solely a culinary background, was a little concerned for her alcohol tolerance. “I’m honored to be here. If you see me later in the crowd and I’m tipsy, forgive me.” For the record, she was seen later in the crowd, and she held up just great.

The great were separated from the merely great in the preliminary rounds which narrowed the competition down from sixteen to eight. Even a simple Daiquiri, which is, as Degroff called it, a “naked drink,” can show certain flaws, and potentially knock someone out. There were then four qualifying rounds before the two semifinals.

Despite a long, boozy night that lasted over five hours, the crowd kept its enthusiasm burning strong, with snacks from local businesses Viktor and Spoils, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Clover Club and Steve’s Ice Cream, and the palpable energy re-fueled by those working the sidelines. The Ladies of Lillet in particular, among them brand ambassadors Amanda Boccato and Charlotte Voisey, should get some sort of Speed Goddess achievement award for maintaining their roller derby finest (and big smiles to match) throughout the night.

The night ended with a champagne toast (of sorts) to Yael. Congratulations, Yael! And congratulations to every last person who was involved in Speed Rack nationwide. Every last one of you is a winner as it seems impossible that any other industry measures up to the bartending community’s commitment to celebrate the hearts, minds and breasts of so many.

A GIRL AND HER CANS

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Content New York’s fastest female bartenders are raising money for breast cancer research and you can help
By Francine Cohen

Russian hands and roamin’ fingers used to be the sole purview of boys trying to get some action in the back row of the movie theatre, but now it’s time for the girls to put their hands to the test.

And for a good cause. Join 16 of New York City’s fastest mixtresses in combating breast cancer as they reach for the well and put their speedy drink making skills and drink knowledge on the line at Speed Rack, the inaugural edition of the national speed bartending competition created by Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero of LUPEC and presented by LushLife Productions (www.lushlifeny.com).

In addition to promoting women in an industry dominated by men, Speed-Rack connects top female talent with industry partnerships while raising funds for breast cancer, one of the biggest risks to women across the globe. Marrero notes, “Speed Rack is the perfect opportunity to unite the national LUPEC family. The competition embodies the fun aspect of LUPEC, along with our appreciation for cocktails. Adding the judging element to the drinks based on skill adds a new dimension to speed competitions. In line with other competitions, charity is a huge part of this event and raising money for breast cancer research is most important.”

Mix adds, “Speed Rack started as a joke I had with a bartender in San Francisco about getting women to double shake on camera about a year ago. Now it has morphed into this awesome competition to promote women and help save women. I got Lynnette on board and now things are really moving forward. I am so excited to have you ladies on board, not only are we going to raise money but we’re also going to have a blast.”

An all star-lineup of bartending talent representing some of the city’s most desirable watering holes competitors will be blasting out drinks as called out by a team of judges

Read the rest of this entry »