The country’s quickest female bartenders will show off their skills tomorrow in New York City in the third annual Speed Rack competition. To qualify, the eight finalists triumphed over nearly 200 other mixologists in competitions around the US. The ladies make cocktails pulled from a list of 50 classics—they don’t know ahead of time what they’ll be mixing. Then their entries are rated on both time and accuracy by a panel of esteemed judges, including Food & Wine’s own Kate Krader.
Not only does the contest highlight some of the country’s best up-and-coming female bartenders, but it’s also for a good cause. To date, Speed Rack has raised almost $200,000 for breast cancer awareness and research.
Since the contest is all about speed, we asked the finalists to recommend their favorite 15-second cocktails.
1. Caitlin Laman (Trick Dog); Ms. Speed Rack San Francisco
Fast cocktail: Natoma Street.
“The secret to making it quick is stirring and serving on the large cube. The drink will continue to dilute and change flavor as you drink it. Super fun and delicious, and low alcohol.”
1 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1 ounce Gran Classico Bitter
1 ounce Bodegas Grant La Garrocha amontillado sherry
Stir on a large rock, garnish with a lemon twist.
2. Mia Mastroianni (Soho House West Hollywood, L.A.); Ms. Speed Rack San Diego
Fast cocktail: The Bourbon Smash.
“Maybe it’s because it makes me feel like the Incredible Hulk... Mia Smash!”
Half lemon, cut into wedges
4 to 6 fresh mint leaves (clapped)
¾ ounce simple syrup
2 ounces bourbon
In a shaker, muddle the lemon. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake, and double-strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint leaf through a wedge of lemon.
3. Angel Teta (Ataula, Portland, OR); Ms. Speed Rack Seattle
Fast cocktail: When Maddy Met Sherry
“When pressed for time I go to a sherry-based creation I came up with: equal parts fino and Madeira, with a quarter ounce of PX sherry, a dash of Angostura bitters and a pinch of sea salt. I keep them chilled, so just a quick stir in the glass and an orange twist is all you need to serve it.”
4. Shannon Ponche (Mayahuel and NiteCap); Ms. Speed Rack NYC
Fast cocktail: Southside
“In a pinch, I always go back to the basics. A classic sour recipe can be reinvented on the fly to meet any guest’s needs. Two parts strong, one part sour and one part sweet. One of my favorite summertime drinks is a Southside—gin, lemon, sugar and mint. Sour recipes are great when you’re busy, because any base spirit will work in the formula.”
5. Jaki Winkles (Alambiq Mixology and Levy Restaurants, Miami); Winner of Speed Rack Southeast
Fast cocktail: Mojito
“Does a shot and a beer count? Just kidding. Being from Miami, I have to make a lot of mojitos. And believe it or not I have mojitos down to a 15-second cocktail. They aren’t my favorite to drink, but they are fun to make.”
6. Liz Pearce (The Drawing Room, Chicago); Winner of Speed Rack Chicago
Fast cocktail: Manhattan
“They’re super fast, everyone loves them and you already have all the ingredients nearby (whiskey, sweet vermouth, orange peel, bitters).
7. Paige Unger (Extra Virgin and Michael Smith’s, Kansas City, MO); Winner of Speed Rack Midwest
Fast cocktail: Gin & Tonic
“Yes, it’s simple; yes, it’s good; and yes, everyone will like it. Give it to me simple! Gin, tonic, lime, done!”
Elisabeth Forsyth: Blue Box, San Antonio, Wild Card Winner
Fast cocktail: Homemade ginger beer with just about anything
"That tart, spicy, bubbly deliciousness pairs with almost any spirit. I like to use mezcal, a little green chartreuse, top with ginger beer. It's such a crowd pleaser."
Amanda Reed, Tavern Law, Seattle, Wild Card Winner
Fast cocktail: Paloma meets a Ramos Gin Fizz
"It's a gin based drink with st Germaine, lemon, grapefruit bitters, absinthe, and soda water. Served in a Collins with no ice."
"I love the camaraderie and power this event gives us ladytenders. All the girls are lovely and amazing at what they do. It's an honor to get to be a part of all this.”
The Speed Rack finals take place at Stage 48 in New York beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets are $30, and are available on the website.