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Feb 18, 2018
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Drink This Weekend Edition: Watch fast female bartenders shake it up at cocktail competition Speed Rack

January 11th 03:01pm, 2013

There are very few instances where a gal will let you get away with calling her a fast woman. But when you’re competing for the title of Miss Speed Rack St. Louis, to be labeled “fast” is a compliment.

Speed Rack is an all-female bartending competition that puts the speed and accuracy of lady bartenders to the test. The coast-to-coast competition was founded in 2011 by Ivy Mix (pictured below, left) and Lynnette Marrero (pictured below, right) as a way to showcase the talents of women in the beverage industry and to raise funds for breast cancer education, prevention and research. Mix and Marrero are among the nation’s leading female mixologists. Mix works at Brooklyn’s Clover Club and is the brand ambassador for Brooklyn Gin, while Marrero is the president of the New York chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), an organization that promotes women bartenders while raising funds for women’s-based charities.

“It started primarily to create a platform for ladies,” Mix explained about the inspiration for Speed Rack. “But then there’s this whole charity aspect. I am a believer that people will always drink. Why not have that money go toward a cause? I don’t know anybody that [breast cancer] hasn’t affected someway, somehow.”

This Sunday, Speed Rack comes to St. Louis, one of 10 cities of the 2012-2013 season. The season will then culminate in a championship round in New York City in May. Contestants are required to make a round of cocktails, culled from a list of 50 accepted industry standard recipes. Judges will rate each drink based on preparation time and accuracy. Among the judging panel will sit acclaimed industry leaders such as Bridget Albert, director of spirits for Southern Wine & Spirits; Doug Frost, master sommelier, master of wine and co-founder of Beverage Alcohol Resource; and Charles Joly, beverage director at the Chicago based cocktail bar The Aviary.

Mix stated that St. Louis was selected as a stop on the circuit because of industry buzz that the drink scene in the Gateway City is “alive, fresh and new.” Marrero added, “St. Louis is one of the cities we’re most excited to come see. There’s so much talked about it.”

The St. Louis competition will shine a spotlight on numerous local female bartenders who are regularly mentioned for their ability to craft a high-quality cocktail, including: Heather Selsor of Taste, Jayne Pellegrino of Blood & Sand (featured in Sauce’s 2013 One’s to Watch list), Jamie Kilgore of Cielo at The Four Seasons, and Brooksey Cardwell and Mel James, both of BC’s Kitchen. While a total of 10 local bartenders are participating, competitors hail from as far away as Kansas City.

The event, which is open to those 21 and older, will take place this Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Cherokee Performing Arts Center located at 2720 Cherokee St. Tickets are $20 (plus a handling fee) when purchased in advance online or $25 at the door, where both credit cards and cash will be accepted.

By Ligaya Figueras

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