On Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, 16 of the country’s top female bartenders went shaker-to-shaker at the finals of the Speed Rack National Tour, competing for industry glory and breast cancer research.
The competition was fierce in the spectator-sport-meets-the-best-in-bartending event, but Lacy Hawkins of New York’s NoMad Bar rose to the top, beating out her competitors in the shaking and stirring showdown, earning the title of Miss Speed Rack USA 2016. To date, Speed Rack has raised more than $450,000 for charities supporting breast cancer research.
More than 200 female bartenders across the country poured their hearts, souls and favorite spirits into the Speed Rack regional heats that were held in eight of the top cocktail cities nationwide. Eight finalists rose to the top and took the stage along with eight wild card winners at the Speed Rack National Finals held at Webster Hall in New York City. The master mixtresses competed in heats to make rounds of cocktails culled from a list of 50 accepted industry-standard classic recipes, in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of excited viewers. The judging panel, which featured leading cocktail-world luminaries Kate Krader of Food & Wine magazine, Paul McGee, owner and head bartender, Lost Lake Chicago, Julie Reiner, owner of Clover Club and co-owner Leyenda, and Dave Wondrich, world-renowned cocktail historian and writer, rated each drink based on prep time and accuracy.
Over 700 guests cheered on the contenders while Pernod-Ricard’s Chris Patino emceed the event and had the audience amped. Top-name male bartenders served as barbacks to keep the show running smoothly and prep the finalists for each round.
Luxardo, Italy’s premier liqueur producer, presented Miss Speed Rack USA 2016 with the Grand Prize trip for two to Padova, Italy, home of the Luxardo distillery. The winner will also join Speed Rack Founders Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix for an educational trip to the Jameson Distillery in Ireland and represent the United States at the Jameson Bartender Ball; along with the Speed Rack winner in each tour city. They will also receive an all-inclusive trip for two to France, where she will enjoy the beauty of the Anjou region and take a tour of the Cointreau distillery while attending the Cointreau Bartender Academie, an educational and intricate program designed to enlighten the trade on the secrets and subtleties of Cointreau.