8 Super-Quick Cocktails From the 2015 Speed Rack Finalists

By Noah Kaufman |

© Dave Lauridsen

The quickest women behind a bar showed off to a packed Webster Hall in New York City last night for the fourth annual Speed Rack finals. Speed Rack attracts the best female bartenders from around the country as they battle it out to see who can make the best cocktails the fastest—all in the name of raising funds for breast cancer research, education and prevention.

L.A.’s Brittini Rae Peterson took home the title last night, but regardless of the results, it’s an impressive group of women. We asked each one for a speedy cocktail—just three ingredients—that represented their hometown.

There are still Speed Rack events going on this week from Brooklyn to Seattle; you can RSVP here, but if you can’t make it, just throw together one of these quick and easy cocktails from the country’s best bartenders.

Julia Hurst of Rose’s Luxury – Ms. Speed Rack Washington D.C.

The Rickey

  • 2 ounces gin or bourbon
  • Half of a lime
  • Sparkling water

Instructions: Squeeze the lime into a tall glass filled with ice. Add gin or bourbon, top with sparkling water and stir. 

“Nicknamed ‘air-conditioning in a glass,’ the Rickey was invented in 1883 by D.C. bartender George A. Willamson and lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey to beat the swampy heat of our fair capital. Ready in a flash and endlessly adaptable, variations on the classic pop up all over D.C. in the summer.”

Lacy Hawkins of The NoMad – Ms. Speed Rack New York


  • 1 1/2 ounces Tanqueray 10
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Carpano Antica

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice and stir for 10 seconds.

Pour over fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist.

“The Negroni is the perfect cocktail to represent New York City. The timelessness of gin, bitterness of Campari, spicy-sweet notes of vermouth and fresh notes of orange oil accurately embody any New Yorker. And the best part is that a Negroni is always in season.”

Zulcoralis Rodriguez of The Esquire Tavern – Ms. Speed Rack Dallas

Oaxaca Mule

  • 1 1/2 ounces mezcal
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces ginger beer

Instructions: Add mezcal and lime juice to a glass with ice. Stir. Top with ginger beer.

“For San Antonio, Texas, I would say that the best representation, besides a margarita, would be an Oaxaca Mule (mezcal, lime juice and ginger beer). San Antonio is a predominantly Latino city, especially Mexican. We do carry a very nice and extensive selection of mezcals, and people are getting into it. The cocktails bring in some earthy, smoky taste of the agave, a spiciness from the ginger beer and lime juice, of course—something tart and very familiar. Perfect cocktail to drink anytime, anywhere with the Texan weather.”

Angel Teta of Ataula – Ms. Speed Rack Seattle

Aviation Gin Martini

  • 2 ounces Aviation gin
  • 1 ounce Imbue vermouth
  • Lemon twist

Instructions: Add gin and vermouth to a mixing glass. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

“This classic drink takes a local turn with two of the most iconic spirits in Portland. Aviation put New World-style gins on the map, and Imbue paved the way for domestic vermouth producers.”

Jackie Goldstein of ABV – Ms. Speed Rack San Francisco

The Japanese Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Cognac
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • Angostura bitters

Instructions: Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass without ice.

“It's just angostura bitters, orgeat and Cognac. We are right next door to wine country, and where's there's wine grapes there's brandy. Also, Small Hand Foods in San Francisco makes the best local orgeat. So I believe this cocktail is fitting not only because it's my favorite cocktail, but because almonds and grapes are big staples in California agriculture.”

Related: 3 Reasons You Need to Know About Velvet Falernum 

Tacy Rowland of Bol – Ms. Speed Rack Denver


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • Bitters

Instructions: In a rocks glass, add sugar and bitters, then muddle. Stir in bourbon. Garnish with a lemon twist if you have time.

“I have to say, I consider the old-fashioned the quintessential cocktail to represent Denver. It’s so simple—all you need are whiskey, bitters and sugar—but it’s so rarely done properly that when you find a good one, you hold on tight and keep going back for more. It’s warming and comforting, and up here in the Rockies, we have the added bonus of watching the snow fall or enjoying the crisp mountain air while we sip. It never goes wrong. Pop a lemon twist on top, and you’re in heaven.”

Jacyara de Oliveira of Sportsman’s Club – Ms. Speed Rack Chicago

The Bitter Brickhouse

  • 2 ounces Evan Williams bonded bourbon
  • 1 ounce Zucca Rabarbaro
  • 1/2 ounce Letherbee Bësk

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir and serve up in an absinthe-rinsed glass

“A play on a Black Manhattan, the Bitter Brickhouse is as cold, dark and bitter as a Chicago winter. Bonded bourbon is rooted deep in Midwest ancestry, with many old distilleries once maintaining offices in Chicago. You can't find anyone in the city who doesn't appreciate a good barbecue, and the mesquite notes of Zucca play to those senses more often than not. Add a little pinch of local spirit in the form of Letherbee's Swedish-styled Malört, Bësk, and you've got a cocktail as true blue as the stripes on the flag.”

Brittini Rae Peterson of Melrose Umbrella Co. – Ms. Speed Rack Los Angeles
  • 2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1/4 ounce or 1 bar spoon organic agave
  • 3 to 4 dashes Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili bitters

Instructions: Build in a double old-fashioned glass, stir to chill and garnish with a flamed grapefruit twist. 

“Los Angeles and Southern California are a mecca for all things agave (tequila, mezcal, etc). The trend started about five years ago, and it became very common to find some variation of this cocktail on menus throughout the city. My preference is the Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili bitters, as they are made locally in Los Angeles by a man named Louis Anderman (and they are really delicious).”

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