The crowd at the Uptown was drunk last night. (Not just drunk, but drunk-drunk.) The fourth annual 2010 Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition made sure of that.
Bartenders from KC, St. Louis and Manhattan, Kansas, competed in what turned out to be an exceptionally upscale boozefest.
Twelve finalists competed in front of a rowdy crowd and four judges including: Doug Frost, Ted Kilgore, Katie Van Luchene and Beau Williams. The rules were simple: Each contestant made his or her own specialty cocktail; each was then asked by the judges to spontaneously re-create a classic cocktail (i.e., a Manhattan) and then required to answer an alcohol-related question (say, name six rums and their points of origin) by judge Doug Frost.
The resurgence of public awareness of food and mixology is such a refreshing phenomenon. The competition provided not only recogniition of a bartender's passion for his or her craft but als the chance to showcase the education, research and hard fucking work it takes to make it in this business. Last night's competition showed that bartending isn't just a 'job' but something that can -- and should -- be taken seriously as a profession. (No matter how many times you burn your fingers lighting those orange rinds on fire.)
Tony Beyer, of Benton's Prime in Kansas City, held down his title of 'Fan Favorite' for the second year with his signature El Remolino. Other winners of the GKCBC: Third Place: TJ Vytlacil of Franco Restaurant in St. Louis. TJ's signature drink is a Silver and Sand. Second Place: Chris Conatser of Justus Drugstore in Smithville. Chris' signature drink is a Tit for Tat (which includes fresh carrot tops). First Place: Mark Church of The Wunderbar at Grunauer Restaurant in Kansas City. Mark's signature drink is the Refined Australian Cocktail. Mark used a hand-held blow torch to caramelize an orange rind, making his cocktail the winning drink.
PR firm Pigsfly and Lab5702 provided live streaming of the event, plus Twitter and Facebook feeds. The Jumbotron allowed the crowd to experience each cocktail intimately enough to feel the welcomed burn of alcohol hitting their nostrils. When do tickets go on sale for the 2011 competition?