I had the privilege of judging cocktails for the Phoenix qualifiers for Last Slinger Standing, part of the annual Arizona Cocktail Week festivities, and eagerly awaited today's announcement of Team 2017. Twenty talented cocktail masters gathered at Crudo and in ten rounds had mere minutes to create an entry judged on Taste and Balance, Appearance, Aroma, and Use of Secret Ingredients. Along with my co-judges Kim Haasarud and Travis Nass, I sipped and sampled through libations with rye or mezcal, and surprise ingredients from clementines to fresh herbs. Out of 20 cocktail submissions, two finalists and an alternate (who will battle beforehand for a spot in the competition) were chosen.
Congratulations to Team Phoenix! Clint Spotleson (Second Story Liquor Bar), Ella Perez (The Gladly, UnderTow), and Piroose Hajizadeh-Amini (Bitter & Twisted).
This year, Austin was added to the roster of national teams, bringing the total to seven: Phoenix, Tucson, Austin, Colorado, Las Vegas, Utah, and New Mexico. (For a Write On Rubee recap of last year's competition, visit 2016 Last Slinger Standing.)
Each city's United States Bartenders' Guild chapter held its own qualifier, selecting teams of three. Finalists will face each other, bracket-style, on Monday, February 20th, 2017 at Culinary Dropout Tempe for the ultimate title of Last Slinger Standing. Congratulations to all the worthy competitors!
Danny Castanuela, Eberly
Kyle Gundlach, Backbeat
Natalie Mauser-Carter, Backbeat
Brandon Meyer, Star Bar
Daryl Pryor, B&GC
TJ Vong, Mister Tuna
Matt Graham, Herbs & Rye
SeongHa Lee, Mandarin Bar
Shauna Cordova, Crescent School of Bartending
Andrew Roy, Coyote Cafe & Secreto
Carla Gilfillan, Hotel Albuquerque
Tom Street, Eloisa
Clint Spotleson, Second Story Liquor Bar
Ella Perez, Undertow & the Gladly
Piroose Hajizadeh-Amini, Bitter & Twisted
Allison Baron, La Cocina & St. Charles Tavern
Eric Harding, PY Steakhouse
Stephen Ott, Tough Luck Club
Adam Bagby, Copper Common
Adam "Scoop" Kaessner, Bar X
Chase Bardole, Under Current
For a full list of Arizona Cocktail Week events, visit this link.