More than just a cocktail contest, this challenge invites bartenders to create a cocktail inspired by, and in honor of, iconic women of the past and present. On Friday, July 20th, 2018, all TOTC attendees are invited to taste, judge and vote along with our USBG judges panel, on their favorite cocktail made by one of the five finalists in the bartender challenge (More details here).
If you’d like to access this event at Tales 2018 but haven’t spent more than $150 in event ticket purchases, you can purchase tasting room access a la carte for just $100 here.
Here are the top five finalists:
Cocktail: Wake Up Shirley Marie
“My life started in a small town surrounded by cornfields. My father owned the automotive repair shop at the bottom of our road. My mother worked nights, and often times I spent my after school hours in my dad’s garage. On days she did not work, we were planting vegetables and flowers. Harvesting strings beans for that night’s dinner. My mother and I share a passion for food and beverage, something she sowed in me long ago when I was a child. How a pinch of nutmeg or a sprinkle of espresso powder can make all the difference. She may not have taught me how to make an old fashioned, or the importance of a purposeful garnish, but she did teach me how to put love and pride into everything that I do.
“She loves to entertain and loves to watch people enjoy her creations. My passion to create found a second home behind the bar and I cultivated my talents further. It started in a smoky dark martini bar, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Through years of devotion, I’ve manage my way to work and learn alongside some of the best in the hospitality industry. From Los Angeles, Kentucky, New York City, Portland all the way to Puerto Rico, to name a few.
“More recently, I have settled in my hometown of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. I became a caregiver to my mother Shirley. Once she was able to walk and talk without my help, I was quick to jump behind the bar at Revival Social Club in York, Pennsylvania. After several long months spent in hospital rooms, it was a breath of fresh air to be back in my element.”
Cocktail: Rebel With a Cause
Inspiration: Eartha Kitt
“Eartha Kitt, once referred to as the ‘Most Exciting Woman in the World,’ was a multi-talented American singer, dancer and comedian who had a career that spanned over 60 years. Eartha’s career spanned from 6 US Top 30 hits to starring as ‘Catwoman’ in the TV series ‘Batman,’ but her true inspiration comes from her actions outside of show business. She was a fiery woman with true passion. From publicly announcing anti Vietnam War sentiments during a White House Luncheon to publicly supporting same-sex marriage. She was a beauty with heated opinions that she acted on with no remorse with hopes to change the world for the better.
“That fire and perseverance is my inspiration for her cocktail ‘Rebel With a Cause.’ Slightly smokey with a bit of heat, this cocktail is inspired by Eartha’s life. Also drawing inspiration from her songs about “Honolulu Rock n Roll” to ‘Old Fashioned Girl,’ a song about wanting the extravagances of modern life, this cocktail is rich with apricot fruit, indulgent with rich lime, tinged with tiki, and delightfully spicy… just like Eartha.
“‘Herstory is inspiring, fun and will have a lasting impact on American Culture both on screen and in the history books.'”
R. Alexander Bell
Cocktail: A Well Behaved Punch
Inspiration: Maria Polise
“‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’
“Maria Polise taught me to bartend. She taught me how to soak lemon peels in sugar to extract their oil, how to carve foot-cubed ice blocks into manageable spheres for drinks, the wonderful and enchanting history of sugar, and of course, it’s co-conspirator rum. This drink is inspired by her, her love of the history of drinks that would make even Dave Wondrich blush, her passion for providing to her community and her endless toil to just make drinks better for everyone.
“I started out as Maria’s barback, where she taught me the basics of classic cocktails and how to taste and consider spirits beyond what was on the label. She taught me bartending techniques, but was always humble and receptive to new ideas, like when I read about the reverse dry shake. She also taught me, by example, to by generous and kind to guests.
“And she did this with other great Philadelphia bartenders, a whole community of them. They now brew beer, bartend in places like New Orleans and Las Angeles, or are heads of their own programs in Philly.
“When Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote that “Well behaved women seldom make history” she wasn’t insinuating misbehaved women did, she was stating that exceptional women in their craft went unregarded. While Maria may have had some accolades, she is the consummate professional, and has given so much to the Philadelphia bartending community, it will forever go unpaid. This drink celebrates Maria. Cheers to Her.”
Cocktail: La Conquistadora
Inspiration: rnLa Malinche, aka Doña Marina
“Brizard’s White Cocoa liqueur is a favorite of mine, so I decided to research the history of cocoa, assuming I would come across a pivotal female figure glossed over by history that I could pay tribute to. And I was right! As a bartender, I always strive to tell a story through my work, and this is a good one… La Malinche, aka Doña Marina, was a young Nahua woman, sold into slavery, who went on to aide Cortés in his conquest of the Aztec Empire and give birth to his first son, considered one of the world’s first Mestizos. More than just an interpreter, she was a brilliant linguist who learned Spanish in several weeks, and a strategic advisor who used her intimate knowledge of the local customs to help make victory possible for the Spanish.
“Understandably, her legacy in Mexico is divisive, with some viewing her as treacherous and some as the symbolic mother of the new Mexican people. Hero or villain, however, she was undeniably brilliant, using her intellect to escape a life of slavery, and directly aiding the events that eventually led to the cacao bean making its way from Mexico to Spain, and from there, to the Western world.
“This cocktail pairs Brizard White Cocoa with flavors drawn both from Mexican and Spanish cultural influence, and, in its title, attributes Doña Marina, aka La Malinche, one more name… The Conqueror!”
Cocktail: Amazing Grace
Inspiration: Grace Hopper
“Born in 1906, Grace Hopper is among the most accomplished women (make that people) of the 20th century. Few know her name or accomplishments. That’s about to change. We’ll examine her accomplishments in education, the Navy, and software development. The last two are intertwined. Grace was admitted to Vassar at 17; graduated Vassar as Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, earned a master’s degree from Yale, earned a mathematics Ph. D from Yale, taught mathematics at Vassar, and was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities worldwide
“At the beginning of World War II, Grace attempted to enlist in the Navy. Her enlistment was denied because her work as a mathematician and mathematics professor was considered too valuable. Never one to be sidelined, Grace volunteered for the Navy Reserve. Grace was assigned to the Computation Project at Harvard University as a Lieutenant. At the end of the war, her request to transfer to the Navy was declined due to her advanced age of 38 (WTF?).
“She continued to serve in the Navy Reserve, rather than accept a full professorship at Vassar. Grace retired in 1986 at the rank of Rear Admiral, one of the Navy’s few female admirals. In 1949, Grace recommended the development of a programming language that used English words. She was told this was not feasible because ‘computers didn’t understand English.’
“Three years later, she proved otherwise when she developed a compiler. A complier is software that translates source code to machine code which creates an executable program (i.e. an app). To simplify, against conventional wisdom Grace Hopper created the ability for the masses to develop software. Distilling the totality of Amazing Grace’s accomplishments to a mere 250 words doesn’t give her the acclaim she has earned.”