By Eden Stiffman, special to EdibleDC
Some of the District’s fastest female bartenders met for a stirring and shaking showdown Monday at the Howard Theatre.
The event kicked off the fourth year of Speed Rack, “the March Madness of boobies and booze,” as event co-founder Ivy Mix calls it, which serves two purposes: to promote women in the male dominated field of bartending, and to raise money to battle breast cancer.
Here’s how it worked: A crowd of tipsy spectators watched two contestants at a time compete in timed heats, making four classic cocktails selected at random. A panel of discerning judges, including Todd Thrasher, bartender and owner of PX and Restaurant Eve, and Jamie Leeds, chef and restaurateur at Hank’s Oyster Bar, rated each drink based on accuracy of proportions and technique, adding extra time to a score when the cocktail wasn’t quite up to par.
Erin Davey, a visiting bartender from The Mandarin Hide in St. Petersburg, Fla. Erin competed against Andrea Tateosian, of The Gibson, in the first round. They were tasked with mixing a Sidecar, a Bobby Burns, an El Diablo and a vodka martini. (Photo by Eden Stiffman)
The final round featured a shake-off between Julia Hurst, of The Partisan, and Tyler Hudgens, of the Columbia Room. The dueling mixologists were asked to make a Vieux Carré, a Hanky Panky and two “dealer’s choice” drinks made with ingredients of the judges’ request.
“It’s a really great cause,” said Hurst, who was competing in the competition for the third time. “I definitely stand behind both fighting breast cancer and promoting women in the field—I think it’s really important,” she said. “And it challenges me to break out my speed skills."
Hurst says she didn’t practice. “I used to have a really high-volume cocktail job so basically my whole job was training for Speed Rack.”
Her fans rushed the stage when she won, beating out Hudgens by just 2 seconds.
Monday’s event brought in over $5000, which will be donated to charities including Share Cancer Support, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Susan Love Foundation/Army of Women.
Hurst will compete in the national finals June 7 in New York City.