Throughout January, F&W will spotlight the top women in food and drink. Nominate the women who inspire you using @foodandwine and #FOODWINEWOMEN and they could be featured next. Here, a look at the Speed Rack competition, which puts the best female bartenders front and center—and raises money to fight breast cancer.
Two women in pink t-shirts stood on stage, surrounded by glasses, shakers and bottles of booze. At a table with three other judges, I watched anxiously as the crowd counted down to zero. This wasn’t a weird Hunger Games–style contest; it was Speed Rack, the amazing, all-women bartending competition. Launched in 2011, Speed Rack was created by two bartenders, Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, to highlight women in the industry and raise money for breast-cancer research.
“Lynnette and I sat down over chicken wings and beer during the Super Bowl,” says Mix. “We had the same philanthropic ideas and girl-power notions.” There are now Speed Rack competitions in eight cities around the country and in Europe.