Speedrack - All Female Bartending Competition

January 11th, 2018

The Speedrack Northeast semi-finals took place at the Melrose Ballroom in Queens NY on January 7, 2018. This is the 7th season of this great event.

Speed Rack, was founded in 2011 by Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero.

This from speed-rack.com:

“The service industry can sometime be thought of as a man’s world.

"Mix and Marrero have been able to shine a spotlight on female mixologists thriving behind bars around the country; and while they are at it, raise money for breast cancer research, education, and prevention.

“The idea was to create a cocktail competition for the ladies -one that celebrated women, was created by women and supported women; in and out of the spirits industry. In their first year, Speed Rack met over 200 bartenders across the country and raised over $69,000.”

That was the first year. This is now the 7th season of Speedrack!

The competition is held in cities all over the country with the final held this year on May 8, 2018 in Chicago.

We really encourage you to attend, volunteer or even enter the competition.

It is such a fun time. Its like a rock concert for Bartenders!

The brand sponsors have tables set up all around the venue offering cocktails and samples of their products.

For Dry January, our friend Mimi Bernham made a delicious N/A punch with Perfect Puree ingredients. Perfect Puree makes great pureed products, mostly fruit, which are awesome in cocktails. The Carmelized Pineapple is one of my favorites! Perfect Puree is really good about shipping samples btw. This is for foodservice professionals only, but they will ship some frozen samples to your bar or restaurant if you go to their website.

Cocktail of the Week:

January Punch 

Courtesy of Mimi Bernham

  • 40 oz water 
  • 7 Rosehip Tea bags (Onno Behrends Brand) 
  • 24 oz The Perfect Puree Prickly Pear 
  • 18 oz Ginger Beer 1
  • 6 oz seltzer 
  • 12 oz pure Acai Juice 
  • 5 oz lemon juice 
  • 3 oz grapefruit juice 
  • 3 tablespoons Sorghum Syrup
  • Method: Allow tea bags to steep for 40 minutes.  Squeeze tea bags, and discard. 
  • Combine lemon juice and sorghum syrup and shake well to thoroughly blend. 
  • Add all ingredients, except for the Ginger beer & seltzer, to a punch bowl and stir to blend. 
  • Add seltzer and ginger beer, and gently stir as to keep some bubbles. 
  • Add ice to chill the punch; 
  • Make an ice ring with rosemary, lemon wheels and fresh cranberries. The aromatics from the ice ring further enhance the punch. 

Makes approximately 3.5 liters of punch

Mimi was our guest on Bartender Journey #161

To attend speedrack its only $25 (or $30 at the door), 100% of which goes to 9 different Breast Cancer charities. According to the speedrack website, approximately $100k is now donated each year.

You can also go as a volunteer.

The format of the competition is this:

In each city 8 ladies are chosen to compete in the semi-final.

It’s a round robin format, so in the first round the ladies are on stage 2 at a time in 4 heats. There are 4 that move on, and again they compete 2 at a time until there are 2 left for the final.

There are 4 judges who call out what drink they would like.

Both competitors are making all 4 drinks per round. Like it says in the title Speedrack, its all about speed. The ladies are timed.

In one round Becca Pesce was up against Samantha Casuga.

Both ladies Bartend at Dead Rabbit. Becca is our good friend from USBG NY. Becca also works for Angel’s Envy as a Whiskey Guardian, as they call their Brand Ambassadors.

The 2 bars are on the big stage and the contestants build their round of drinks as quickly as possible. And these are not simple drinks! There are drinks like the Lion’s Tail, the Cooper Union and the El Diablo. At least it’s a finite list – the competitors are given a list ahead of time of possible cocktails they may be asked to make.

And taste counts too! The judges can add penalty time based on taste, presentation, technique etc.

Becca won her first round, but unfortunately Becca her next round to Haley Traub.

Haley moved on to the final round.

As I record this in mid January 2018 there are 4 dates still to come, plus the final in Chicago. The 4 remaining semi-finals are in New Orleans, Phoenix, Washington D.C. and Boston.

Book of the Week:

Julie Reiner was one of the judges. She wrote:

The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion

I spoke to Julie way back in 2015 at Tales of the Cocktail.

In the final round Celeste “Lucky” Dittanmo of Whistle & Tins in Maplewood NJ was up against Haley Traub of Dutch Kills in Queens. Haley was victorious and moves on to the finals in Chicago.

I hope you’ll attend, volunteer or compete. All the info is on speed-rack.com and there are lots of videos on facebook – just search for speedrack (one word - no space).

I hope you checked out the previous episode of Bartender Journey. Podcast #239 is all about the Classic Daiquiri. I spent a lot of time on that episode and I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself! So please go back and listen to that one if you haven’t already.


Here’s to God’s first thought, “Man”!

Here’s to God’s second thought, “Woman”!

Second thoughts are always best,

So here’s to Woman!

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