Bartenders put mixing skills to the test for title

Ocean City’s quickest to whip up series of drinks during annual contest (written by Lisa Capelli in Ocean City Today)

(May 29, 2009) Ocean City bartenders will again have the opportunity to show off their mixing skills, competing for even more money this year during the fourth annual Fastest Bartender contest.
“We’ve revamped the contest this year and we’re really excited about it,” said Contest Commissioner Billy Reilly. “We have some new staff, new sponsors, new graphics, lights and sound and we’ll be in a few more cities — more than 20 in 12 states — this year … It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ocean City will be the 10th contest location of the 22 scheduled in 2009. Preliminary rounds will take place June 3 and 10, at Macky’s on 54th Street. Bartenders will be judged on speed, accuracy and finesse in three rounds: Five-shot pour, Bacardi mixed drink and mad martini. In the martinis round, drinks made by the mixologists will be auctioned off to the highest bidders. Money raised will go to Tender Hearts, a nonprofit support group for families of children with congenital heart defects.

Each trial will be scored individually then totaled to come up with a contestant’s overall score. Deductions will be made for mistakes, such as pouring the incorrect liquor, over- or under-pouring, spillage and missed or incorrect garnish.

The cost to enter the mix-off, sponsored by Miller Brewing, Bacardi and Red Bull, is $25, a portion of which will also benefit Tender Hearts. Contestants should check in between 8-9 p.m. The contest will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m.

The bartenders with the highest scores in each preliminary round will qualify for the finals, scheduled for Wednesday, June 17.

Last year, the first-place winner walked away with $1,000, a trophy and the title of Fastest Bartender. This year, the champion will be awarded $1,500, a trophy and the title.

The runner-up will earn $500, and the third-place mixologist will get $250. Both will receive trophies as well.

Bartenders must work at an Ocean City bar or restaurant. Contestants can register before or on the night of each trial date at Macky’s. A maximum of 18 bartenders can compete in each preliminary round so those interested should sign up in advance.

Nick Miller, representing the Monkey Barrel in Salisbury, took top honors in the 2008 competition. Macky’s bartender, Matt “Bull” Lasinski, won the 2007 contest and Sean Ward of the Greene Turtle, 116th Street, was the 2006 champion.

Reilly brought the event to Ocean City because he said there wasn’t much in the area to recognize bartenders. Not everyone can do “flair” bartending, he said, but this type of challenge is one anyone can master.

This year’s winner will be invited to the Washington, D.C. contest, where bartenders from all over the country and beyond will converge.

The Fastest Bartender event started in Washington, D.C., in 1981 and has grown to include participants from all over the world. Reilly was the Washing-ton, D.C. winner in 1995. He is also a member of the Bartender’s Hall of Fame and was in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest bar shift at 240 hours.

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