CRG Bartender Battle 2015

Posted on February 16, 2015

Bartender battle

Everyone wants to see a good battle.  The Romans had their Gladiators, America and the USSR had the Cold War and Coke and Pepsi had the Pepsi Challenge.  To keep with the human spirit, I arranged a bartender battle between 18 bartenders from our many restaurants at the Cohn Restaurant Group.

The 2015 CRG Bartender Battle was held at OB Warehouse on February 9th.  Pernod Ricard sponsored the blood bath.  I invited several non-partisan judges from San Francisco and Los Angeles to act as our guest referees.  Nikki Louie brand ambassador for Avion Tequila, Ria Soler brand ambassador for Absolut Vodka,  Daniel Warrilow mixologist for Olmeca Altos Tequila and Juan Carlos Calderon from Pernod Ricard/Southern Wines & Spirits sat at the throne and tasted 33 concoctions.  In attendance we had about 90 employees from our different restaurants supporting their favorite bartenders.  There were a total of 18 bartenders competing in three different competitions.

Bartender Battle #1

Competitors had to make the best Absolut Vodka cocktail.  The bartenders had weeks to prepare and two minutes to make the cocktail.  There was a catch. They had to get creative, because they could not use the most expensive ingredients.  Their cocktail had to come under a 14% pour cost. For those of you not familiar with pour cost, it is the cost of ingredients divided by the price of the cocktail.  It is a challenge in any bar to make deliciously tasting drinks and stay mindful of pour cost.

Bartender Battle #2

Bartenders had 5 minutes to create a cocktail using Olmeca Altos Tequila and at least three ingredients from a secret basket of ingredients.  Seems easy?  Not so much.  5 minutes is not a lot of time when the ingredients are laid out a minute before.  Working in a foreign well is already a challenge, but not knowing the ingredients and the limited time makes this challenge very difficult.  I think of it on the same level as a Top Chef quick fire challenge.

Bartender Battle #3

The last battle was the Secret Style competition.  The bartenders had full range of the bar as long as they used one spirit from Pernod Ricard.  The bartenders were given the style and had 5 minutes to create a cocktail in that style. We could have picked spirit forward cocktails, sour cocktails, spritzers, martinis etc… We settled on beer cocktails.

I can go on and give you the play-by-play with results, but that would not be fun. Instead watch the video!


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