"It just keeps growing and growing. There's a new lineup of bartenders with a bunch of new faces," Maybee says.
The Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition is Sunday, August 21, at the Uptown Theater. The doors open at 6 p.m. (and attendees can try the competitors' drinks in the tasting room before the battle of bartenders gets under way on the main stage).
"It's a really great public forum for showcasing our talents. There are so many passionate and creative people. I think this is going to be eye-opening for a lot of people," Maybee says.
Among the 13 finalists are Jennifer Tosatto of Manifesto, Tony Beyer of Benton's Prime Chop House and Justin Richardson of the American. There will also be a week's worth of events leading up to the competition with finalists debuting their drink entries at their own bars. Tonight, Jason Kimbrel will mix up his Strange Holiday cocktail over at Tannin Wine Bar.
Maybee won't handicap the field, but he does feel that this year is wide-open because of one notable absence. Chris Conaster, who has placed first, second and third the past three years, will be out of town during the weekend of the competition.
"This is a serious career. It's no longer just a second job or a way for someone to pay their way through college. We have a lot of fun, but we work really hard," Maybee says.
Tickets are $15 and available online. The ticket includes admission and one drink ticket.