Dry Society hosted their first bartending competition on August 28, sponsored by Michter’s Whiskey. The event brought together local bartenders and surprise judges to deliberate on the best libation.
ocated smack dab in the middle of Union Market at the Kaleidoscope, Dry Society serves Prohibition-era style drinks. Bar seating is tight and packed with plenty of excuse-me moments. A casual vibe is at play here demonstrated through the urban beats. Ping-Pong and Corn Hole are on the rims of the courtyard with a live DJ and here is where a larger seating area is available.
There were three categories to compete in: shaken, stirred and wild-card secret ingredient. Competitors had 10 minutes to prepare their drinks in the first two rounds and five minutes in the last round. Scoring was based on balance and flavor, presentation, efficiency, technique and creativity.
Bryan Molar is the distributing sales representative for Wine Warehouse of 16 years. He was responsible for making sure the event went on without a hitch. This too was his first cocktail competition, “A lot of competitions are for bigger brands. I wanted to do a craft cocktail competition to show we can compete in the marketplace,” Molar said.
Deanna Kenney an Orange County resident and first-time cocktail competition attendee was brought to the event by her daughter. “I came here for the first time about six months ago, and the craft cocktails are amazing. I got an Old Fashioned, and it was perfection. I think it’s really cool because this is an art,” Kenney said.
During each round judges sat in a reserved section of the bar while attendees gathered around to watch the show. Leo Montesinos from Provenance displayed some shaker flair and got audience awe from apples bruleed with rock candy. Music transformed from street-hop to wobbly electronic music as contestants prepared their drinks.
David Yslas, 26, has been a bartender at Dublin 4 for a year. This is his first time competing, “I have a friend at Milk Box who told me about this event, and I submitted my cocktail recipes and got selected. I submitted a traditional Whiskey Sour, and Fancy Free which is my take on an Old Fashioned,” Yslas said. During this conversation, Yslas pulls a coin out of his pocket and presents it with a grin. “Do you know what this is? It’s a Fernet Branco challenge coin for bartenders. You go to a bar, show the bartender this coin and if he doesn’t have one he buys you a shot and if he does have one you buy him a shot. It’s called a bartenders handshake. My boss just gave it to me.” The perks of being a bartender.
Closing out the night, Chris Collins of Center Hub pulls out a ceramic skull and three candles, creating an ambiance the crowd couldn’t resist. He had gone over his pour time by four seconds prompting Bryan Molar, judge and distributor, to clap back on his time error, “You’re lucky I’m a very forgiving man.” Chris appeases his heckling judge by saying “You’re about to taste the most amazing thing in your life!” Bryan whimsically picks up the ceramic skull and kisses it. Perfectly capturing the chaos and feel-good vibes this event had to offer.
Contestants: Jessica Kircher- Pub Thirty-Two | David Yslas-Dublin 4 | Chris Collins-Center Hub | (WINNER) Leo Eric Montesinos-Provenance | Diego Iturburo- Central Bar | RC DeCosta- Central Bar | Jeremiah Wisdom- Red Table | David Lujan- Tapas and Beer