Strong drinks, stiff competition, and badass women—is there anything not to like about Speed Rack? The fourth season of the national female speed bartending competition wrapped up Sunday night at Webster Hall, as eight all-star bartenders fought in a series of head-to-head shake-and-stir-offs in the name of breast cancer research. Fielding an order of four cocktails from a panel of industry judges, contestants had to mix, pour, and garnish the drinks faster and more accurately than their opposition.
The audience—largely NYC-area bartenders and barbacks, with a handful of cocktail nerds like ourselves mixed in—came out strong in support of local favorites Lacey Hawkins (Clover Club, The NoMad) and Tess Anne Sawyer (Mother’s Ruin, sekend sun). Tess brought her trademark free-pour style that she employs at Mother’s Ruin, but she could not overcome Jacyara de Oliveira from Chicago’s Sportsman’s Club in the quarterfinals. Lacey easily made the semis, but two perfect drinks couldn't help make up the time difference against a lightning quick Karri Cormican from San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon, who posted a 1:37 for the fastest heat of the night. (Lacey’s bold attempt to try and stir three drinks at once may have slowed her down just a touch.)
The championship round pitted LA cocktail queen Brittini Rae Peterson against Karri Cormican. With two “Dealer’s Choice” drinks in the order forcing some impromptu creativity, Brittini Rae turned out two perfect cocktails to help her clinch the title of Miss Speed Rack USA. The championship earns her trips to Ireland (where she’ll rep the USA at the Jameson Bartender’s Ball) and France (where she'll attend the Cointreau Bartender Academie).
With the Manhattan Cocktail Classic effectively dead, we would have no complaints if Speed Rack became the new go-to cocktail event in NYC. The Speed Summit, a few days of extra industry events wrapped around the finals, continues through Tuesday—just in case you missed yesterday's drinking competition.