If you’re heading to Chicago to take in the James Beard Awards or Chicago Style, a cocktail conference, leave time for the Speed Rack National Finals. Launched in 2011 by bartenders Lynette Marrero and Ivy Mix, the event pitches female bartenders against one another to see who can shake, stir, and pour a round of four called cocktails not only the fastest, but also with the most accuracy and the best-looking presentation.
That first event was a small one, fashioned as a fun way to draw attention to female talent behind the bar. Now in its seventh season, it’s expanded to include events in the UK, Canada and Asia, and has raised more than $700,000 for breast cancer prevention and awareness.
The 2018 Competitors:
Mary Palac, Paper Plane, San Jose, CA
Araya Anderson, Rye, Horsefeather, San Francisco
Madelyn Kay, Beatnik, Chicago
Caer Maiko Ferguson, The Roosevelt Room, Austin
Chelsea DeMark, Hank’s Oyster Bar at Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Jessi Weinstein, Hank’s Oyster Bar on The Wharf, Hank’s Cocktail Bar, Washington, DC
Haley Traub, Dutch Kills, Fresh Kills, NYC
Kayla Hasbrook, Scampi, NYC
Tainah Soares, A4CADE, Cambridge, MA
Jen LaForge, Blossom Bar, Brookline, MA
Katie Renshaw, Drumbar, Chicago
Julia Gordon, Lost Lake, Chicago
Lydia McLuen, Palomar, Portland, OR
Lauren Darnell, The Hideout, Seattle
Vanessa Vara, Rumble, San Antonio
Natalie Ledesma, Paramour Rooftop, Chisme, San Antonio
This is a W&S web exclusive feature.