Last Sunday night, while most Boston bars were packed to watch the Red Sox battle the Yankees in controversial game 4 of the ALCS, the Blue Cat Cafe, a pseudo-swanky joint across from Tower Records in Boston, put the game on the backburner for a competition of its own. The lounge and bar played host to the first round of the "Quest for the Best Bartender in America." The competition, sponsored by Skyy Vodka and Major Peter Cocktail Mix, is national in scope, with Sunday's winner to travel to Disney World in Orlando for the finals in November and a shot at the $2,500 first prize.
The Boston regional competition drew only six bartenders to compete for the chance to advance. Three judges from the Drinkmaster Bartending School, including Blue Cat owner Jason Rothe, evaluated contestants on speed, accuracy and showmanship. Drinks included a Vodka Collins, a Cosmopolitan, a White Russian, a Bloody Mary, a Cape Codder and a Kamikaze.
The catch, of course, was all of the drinks were made with vodka--Skyy Vodka.
Lulu, a self-proclaimed "personality" from the free-bimonthly rag Stuff at Night, emceed the evening. Sporting a form-fitting black dress with glittering green styrofoam martini olives in her hair, she announced in her introduction, "My name is Lulu, not olive head."
When the show got underway, the mostly 20-something crowd was more attuned to the television and the BoSox game than the first contestant, Fred, who tends at T.G.I. Friday's. The crowd was more supportive of Rebekah, who had a home court advantage since she tends at the Blue Cat. Unlike Fred, Rebekah prepared the drinks simultaneously, instead of in order. Consequently, in the end, her ordering produced faster results.
Eric Papachristos, who tends at Caprice bar, won the competition after a mix-off against Miguel, also from T.G.I. Friday's.
Overall, the free drinks were nice, but the competition dragged.
Miguel was about to begin when Lulu announced, "The Harvard Crimson was here--the studious type," just as we were out the door.