Manhattan bartenders face off in cocktail competition

Cocktails line the bar at Gordo's in Aggieville. (Archive photo by Alex Shaw | Collegian Media Group)

You wouldn’t expect Manhattanites to be shaking up cocktails on a Monday evening, but this week, mixologists faced off to showcase their signature drinks. The School of Music, Theatre and Dance Advisory Council held this competition at Arrow Coffee Co. to select the signature cocktail that will be served during the 2020 MTD Scholarship Extravaganza on Feb. 15.

Rebekah Beauchemin, bartender representing Sodexo, said she was excited to attend the event.

“I really like how all the different members of the community came together to donate different things so they could put this on and raise money for the school,” Beauchemin said.

Not only was the competition an opportunity for mixologists to show off their skills, live performances from MTD students entertained visitors. The event raised money for a cause, with a dollar of each drink purchase donated to the MTD scholarship fund.

The winning signature cocktail was the Isle de Sangre, “Blood Island,” the creation of Chris Backman from the Bluemont Hotel. The drink featured a dehydrated blood orange at the top.

Bartenders from around the Manhattan area competed with their winning cocktails, which three judges critiqued. They judged drinks based on taste, representation and preparation. The contest required using one of the three rums donated by LDF Companies, Inc. and could have no more than six ingredients in the drink, which must fit in a 13.5-ounce glass.

Brian Herrin earned second place with his “CiCo Park Swizzle,” a fun twist on the Queen’s Park Swizzle. In third, Justin Hartmann, representing fiVe, mixed up his “CopacaBURNa.”

Kathryn Harth, chair of the fundraising committee and advisory council for the School of Music, Theater and Dance, planned the event and was excited to see the turnout.

“One really great thing about Manhattan is that a lot of the regular bartenders here in town were looking for opportunities to get together and have a chance to compete,” Harth said. “Not just to show off their skills, but to really enjoy each other’s company while and have a chance to try different kinds of spirits.”