Photo Credit: Lush Life Productions
Speed Rack is a speed bartending competition created by and for female bartenders. Not only has it raised awareness of the amazing level of talent among its competitors during each of the ten regional competitions held over the course of the past year, but it has raised over $15,000 dollars for breast cancer research along the way. The regional winners, along with six wild card competitors, converged at the Prince George Ballroom in Manhattan last Friday night to see who would earn the coveted title of Miss Speed Rack — the fastest female bartender in the country.
In each head-to-head round, contestants were given four cocktails to make as quickly as possible, but a fast finish didn’t guarantee a win. Once the drinks in each round were finished, they were then analyzed by the esteemed panel of judges — cocktail experts Dale Degroff, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders and chef Amanda Freitag — who had the discretion to add or subtract time based on the quality of the finished drinks. Preliminary rounds narrowed down the competitors from sixteen to eight, and by the time the crowd poured in, the heat was on.
The ladies were supported by some of the best barbacks in the business: Dominic Venegas (NYC), Steve Schneider (NYC), Dev Johnson (NYC), Jeff Bell (NYC), Corey Bunnewith (Boston), Daniel de Oliviera, (Chicago), Toby Maloney (NYC), Sean Kenyon (Denver), Marco Dyonisus (SF), Ricky Gomez (Portland), Neyah White (SF) and John Lermayer (Miami) all joined forces to help the competitors shine and keep the competition moving forward. While guests cheered on their hometown favorites, they were treated to punches galore as well as food from Pies ‘n’ Thighs, Clover Club, Viktor and Spoils, and Steve’s Ice Cream.
In the final round, Houston’s Alba Huerta and New York’s Yael Vengroff battled it out in front of a cheering crowd, and in a close finish, hosts Chris Patino and Simon Ford announced that Yael Vengroff emerged as the victor.