TopTender303, the 4-week bartending competition to find Denver’s best bartender, kicked off with a bang last Tuesday night!
The competition was stiff, with 10 bartenders from Denver’s top watering holes throwing down their best drink-making moves in a 2-round showdown: Drink of Choice and Mystery Box, featuring the TOP SECRET spirit of the night provided by Beverage Distributers Company.
The Goal: Make the cut to Week 2 of TopTender303, and one step closer to the $500 grand prize.
Pre-competition, the tenders were relaxed and socializing.
Meet the competitors (from left to right): Jason Deyle (Epernay Lounge), Connor Brown (Cold Crush), JonMichael “Jamo” Yamamoto (The Drink), Chad Soper (Second Home), Roy Castro (Spill Lounge), Kyle Faulhaber (Nativ Hotel), Zane Watkins (Roosevelt), Danny Hampton (Hapa Sushi, Cherry Creek), Ryan Buchanan (The Squeaky Bean), Ross Larson (Privé at Dorchester).
While sharing some funny tidbits about their times behind the bar, Conner had us all laughing after revealing his most annoying request to date was some dude asking him to charge his e-cigarette at the packed Cold Crush bar.
When asked about strangest drink requests, Chad spoke up, “Chambord and Sprite, to which I asked, would you like a side of diabetes with that?” Apparently the customers were not so amused, responding with a hostile “Yes” after a few seconds of death staring.
Then it was Game Time, and Vodka was the star.
The first round, Drink of Choice, started with a mad dash to the fully stocked ingredient table, containing basically anything and everything that the bartenders could use to make their drinks, and with only 20 minutes to get it done, it was a hectic round.
The Mystery Box was an entirely different beast. Given a box filled with random ingredients, the bartenders had another 20 minutes to make their final drinks including at least three mystery box ingredients. There was some intense creativity going down. See the photo below, those are Cheetos sprinkled on top (…and it was de-lish-ous).
It was a pretty epic show, with the bartenders in the center of the room surrounded by friends and fans from the industry watching and cheering as the competitors made it happen.
It was a hard decision when it came time to make the cuts.
Both rounds of drinks were sampled by attendees, who voted for their favorites, as well as a panel of judges that helped make the final decision as to who would be moving on to Week 2. Although extremely talented, Kyle Faulhaber, Danny Hampton, and Ryan Buchanan won’t be moving on.
So, after an awesome night of intense competition and delicious beverages, we’re looking forward to Round 2 of TopTender303, going down at NATIV Hotel on Tuesday, September 8, where the remaining 7 bartenders will battle it out using yet another TOP SECRET spirit. DON’T MISS IT!