Tracker Pixel for Entry

Plenty of island flavor at the 5th Annual Bartenders Battle

by Chris Larson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cocktail Showdown | February 21st, 2018

HPR's Bartender's Battle - photograph by Kensie WallnerAlthough the temperatures were sub zero last Sunday, the crowd and competitors were certainly on fire at the Holiday Inn in Fargo for the 5th Annual Bartenders Battle.

This event has become a highlight of the year for the service industry and this year’s Tiki theme was without a doubt well represented throughout the night. We saw it not only in the attire of the crowd and the juiciness of the drinks, but in the ambiance as well.

As guests arrived, they were escorted to their tables by the lovely hula girls of Blue Belles Burlesque while DJ Taylor Bride of Atomic DJ spun a mix that got everyone in a tropical mood in short order. I noted Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley and Jungle Book melodies and riffs being laid over some groovin’ jungle beats that Livewire had sounding great all night.

The footage of the live action that Livewire displayed on the side screens kept everyone feeling like they were really a part of the action and the crowd delivered great energy to the contests round after round.

This year’s VIP experience once again included a spirits sampling from Republic that featured a variety of whiskeys including the brand new Jameson Caskmates IPA edition, as well as a variety of gin, vodka, and tequila brands that are perfectly suited for craft cocktails.

Our VIP guests were also treated to a wide array of sours, stouts, IPAs, red ales, brown ales and more from local breweries Kilstone, Drekker, Fargo Brewing, and Prairie Brothers. With all those great beer options is was very easy to find something to pair with whatever you chose, from a delicious and fresh tiki themed buffet provided by our hosts at the Holiday Inn.

After the VIP social hour was over, our MCs Erik Block and last year’s battle winner Elijah Larson gave us a quick rundown of the rules, before we got right into the competition.

For each head to head in the first round, we judges drew a spirit category from a fish bowl, and the contestants were given five minutes to create a cocktail live on stage that featured said spirit.

A full array of fresh and canned food and juice options were available as ingredients and garnishes and Republic National Distributing Company provided what is without a doubt the single best bar stock in town for that one night.

For the second round, new this year, the contestants had to create a beer cocktail that featured a local beer from one of the sponsors. The judges drew the name of the brewery and the contestant could choose from one of two brews provided.

For the third round, Republic National provided a mystery ingredient that was brand new in the market and that none of the competitors had heard of before.

Before we go over the full results, it is worth noting that the contestants continue to impress us year after year. This year’s highlights included delicious and creative drinks that were served in coconuts by Josh and Adam’s use of molecular mixology to infuse an incredible amount of flavor into a hot drink -- that blew our grass skirts up. Chris Staloch dressed as a pineapple and Josh Goedtke went shirtless to show off his Maori tattoos that were obviously sharpied.

While there was always a clear winner, despite us having a four person panel, there were several battles that were so close they were won by less than a point. One of the most exciting highlights for me was that this year’s competition featured several newcomers to the battle and was ultimately won by someone with the least amount of actual mixology experience but a notably strong sense of flavors.

After witnessing the ways in which this local cocktail culture often collaborates with, learns from, and grows because of these such interactions with each other, I feel the future of our cocktail scene in this town has more potential than ever.

Round 1:
Tequila - Judd Eskildsen vs Chris Staloch (split decision, Judd won by points)

Bourbon - Josh Goedtke vs Jarad Tandberg (Josh won)

Gin - Aaron Duma vs Molly Fontaine (split decision, Aaron won by points)

Cordials - Maggie Green vs Adam Nehk (Adam won)

Round 2: beer cocktails
Aaron w/ Kilstone Vienna Stout vs Josh w/ Drekker Ectogasm (Josh won)

Judd w/ Prairie Brothers Padfoot Black IPA vs Adam w/ Fargo Kenny’s Lemonade (Judd won)

Final Round: Malibu Lime Rum
Judd Eskildsen vs Josh Goedtke

2018 HPR Bartenders Battle winner: Judd Eskildsen

Judd Eskildsen - photograph by Kensie Wallner

Recently in:

FARGO – Kilbourne’s long-term dreams of a Dakota high-rise stirred resentment on Tuesday when the real estate company announced construction on Block 9 will begin next month, and could soon block Prairie Public’s broadcasting…

The 45th Annual Downtown Fargo Street Fair has been making efforts to increase the number of local vendors. The Local Block will be located at the north end of the 300 block on Broadway, near the Fargo Theatre.The High Plains…

Thursday, July 26 at 5 p.m.-midnightFargo Brewing Company, 610 N University, FargoHip hop artist, community activist, and member of Rhymesayers, Brother Ali will appear with Nooky Jones at The Fargo Brewing Company. Nooky Jones was…

With all of the excitement surrounding the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana, why aren’t we discussing the possibilities of industrial hemp? You might not catch a buzz from it but there’s all kinds of other…

“Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It’s Off To Work We Go!”How many undocumented workers are in the United States? Estimates range from 11 to 25 million. We need some history to understand why our immigration laws are in such a mess. The most…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Food truck fever

by HPR Contributor

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHave you all been to Taco Brothers Taco Truck yet? Or how about Poke Bowl Food Truck? Have you tried the Walleye Wrap at Chef Mobile? There may have been a few mobile food establishments in decades…

We had a chance to chat with Duluth native Gaelynn Lea at Winnipeg Folk Festival. Not only did she tell us how she developed her sound she told us about her experience winning the NPR Tiny Desk Concert and the trials and…

Boots Riley hallucinates a wildly funny feature debut with “Sorry to Bother You,” a sharp-fanged social satire that mashes up the innovative handmade aesthetics of Michel Gondry with the fierce truth-to-power consciousness of…

Arts

Dan Mihuta: The Art Maker

by HPR Contributor

By Rod Hadland rodanthonyhadland@gmail.comThe name Mr. Mihuta may not be familiar, but for most of my life, I’ve known that name. There was a television show where Mr. Mihuta taught art projects, in various mediums, that I…

Theatre

Xanadu: The Musical

by HPR Contributor

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduGet ready to dive into a world full of demi-gods, mythological creatures, and plenty of disco balls when you see Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater’s exciting first show of its 72nd season:…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

Once a year, fans of beer in the FM area have access to what their heart desires... bragging rights. The Rare Beer Picnic grants beer aficionados the ability to taste whatever their heart desires from their favorite beer…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu Recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.- The United Nations…