Tuesday, January 22, 2013
December 4, 2011, the morning after Repeal Day. I walked through the frozen morning toward the Jack Rose Saloon in Washington, D.C., half-rolling and half-dragging my luggage across the frost-covered sidewalk. The morning was clear and brisk, and each step reverberated through my body. Why oh why was I up this early, squinting into the bright morning sun? Of course, there was good reason to propel myself from my comfortable hotel bed, pack up my suitcase many hours before my flight, and scurry around in the sub-freezing temperatures--it was Speed Rack.
Speed Rack is the brainchild of Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix, also LUPEC NYC members. The women-only competition pits regional bartenders head-to-head in a test of accuracy and speed. Shaking, stiring and building drinks selected from a list of 50 industry standards, each drink is judged by a panel of industry experts. As a competitor moves from one round to the next, she becomes that much closer to winning her regional heat and a chance to compete at the Speed Rack Finals, held in New York City. On the line are a significant amount of bragging rights, the title of Miss Speed Rack, and a trip to France. But there is a serious side to all of the fun and games--all of the proceeds from the events go toward funding breast cancer research, education and prevention. In the initial year, almost $70,000 was raised across 11 events nationwide.
When I walked through the doors to the Jack Rose on that cold December morning, I found the entire place alive with excitement and activity. Contestants, many of whom had worked the Repeal Day Ball, milled around drinking coffee and chatting about the events of the night before. Though the atmostphere was full of camaraderie, but a certain amount of nervousness and competitiveness were active as well. Volunteer barbacks were busy setting up the area--clearing space and prepping ingredients. Other volunteers were creating signs and assembling the merchandise tables. Lynnette and Ivy were there, of course, assisting and overseeing the activity.
The preliminary rounds were held in the upstairs bar. As the ladies took to the bar to eek out their best times, to qualify for the opportunity to perform in front of a live roaring crowd. The environment was remarkably supportive as those not on the clock cheered on their fellow contestants. Unfortunately for me, just as the event started ramping up and the crowds started arriving, I had to leave to catch my flight back home. The round robin segment, followed by the finals, were sadly to take place after my plane was already in the air.
The second season of Speed Rack opened with a tchk-tchk-tchk of the shaker in Boston on October 3, and events are scheduled nationwide through the end of March. I am extremely excited that my city is hosting one of the regional competitions. I would finally be able to witness the action of the latter rounds live.
On Sunday, February 10, 2013, Speed Rack will come to Seattle. Don't miss the excitment as some of the Northwest's finest female bartenders go head-to-head at the Century Ballroom. And if you just can't wait to get a taste of what the event is like, check out the videos that show the highlights of past competitions.
Many thanks to guest blogger Courtney Randall who will be covering Speed Rack next month for our LUPEC blog. Good luck to all the contestants and we hope to see you all at the event, which promises to be a hell of a good time while raising money for the boobs we all love and adore! Find out more and get your tickets here!