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​Yo ho ho!

Cocktail Showdown | April 10th, 2019

Design by Raul Gomez

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in!

For nine weeks, three judges were presented with a shot or after-dinner drink (depending on the establishment) and a drink at each stop of the showdown. Bartenders at participating establishments were judged on presentation, flavor, and creativity, in two different bar categories: Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant Bar.

Now that the Showdown has come to a close, we’re setting up the ultimate battle in a chopped-style competition. This Sunday, with a pirate theme, we’re hoping to set a record with the most buccaneers to congregate at the Holiday Inn. We’ll start out with a pre-party in the pool area at 4pm, and then we (politely) storm the ballroom.

Now for a list of our fierce competitors. Heave ho, me hearties!

Molly Fontaine
Spirits Lounge at the Holiday Inn

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Molly: I like to keep it simple. I'll usually order a vodka soda with some citrus.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Molly: This is a tough one. I use my cocktail spoon a lot so I guess I'll go with that.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Molly: When I'm with a guest or in the middle of completing a round and someone comes up and just starts yelling their order at me. That and verbal tippers. Compliments don't pay bills, hunnies!

Justin Ryttie
Rhombus Guys

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Justin: Recently my drink of choice has been a good gin and soda with lime. Otherwise, I love sour ales so I'll treat myself to those when there's a really good one. I miss Tallgrass's Key Lime Pie Sour.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Justin: If I was stranded on a desert island I could be very content if I had access to lime, mint, and sugar. Heat and mojitos just go well together.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Justin: Recently, my number one bartending pet peeve has been the question "how much is -insert drink or liquor-". At Rhombus we have easily over 50 liquors that change as our drinks evolve, 24 beers on tap, and a cocktail menu that changes twice a year. I will never memorize all those changing prices and looking those up during a busy time is extremely frustrating.

James Hein
Toasted Frog

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

James: My choice of drink will vary. If I know the bartender I get what they recommend or have been playing with. If it is a place I don't know, it will be a Negroni or Makers Mark on the rocks depending on the type of establishment.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

James: I would assume a desert island lacks ice, thus rendering most equipment useless. My favorite equipment is a well-balanced spoon and mixing tumbler. Good Gin, Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Bitters, and Campari are essential ingredients.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

James: My pet peeve is candy-flavored or named drinks. Seriously, grow up.

Josh Goedke
Twist

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Josh: Vodka soda and shots.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Josh: First off, alcohol because that would be the most important, obviously. Then lime juice, lemon juice, agave nectar, a shaker and an endless supply of ice.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Josh: I'm too happy all the time to have pet peeves.

Tori Luck
Mezzaluna

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Tori: Vesper with Dripping Springs in the summer. Blanton’s old fashioned in the winter.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Tori: If I'm on an island...I'd need Cachaça, limes and turbinado sugar so I can make Caipirinhas. As far as tools go...None, I'm STRANDED... I'll muddle it up with a stick and bottoms up! Fine, fine, I'll play along and say a shaker and a bar spoon.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Tori: Negativity.

Aaron Duma
Sanctuary Events Center

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Aaron: New York sour

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Aaron: I would really miss ice. Ice is a cocktail’s best friend, but I would bring my wine key for sure.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Aaron: "It's a garnish tray, not a buffet!" - Amy Bertzyk

Jared Winmill
HoDo

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Jared: It’s situational for me, but if I want to treat myself I go to Duffys for Brandon’s Jameson Caskmates White Russian.

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Jared: A good chef knife and coconuts. Stay hydrated with the coconut water and a vessel to drink out of. I hope the island comes stocked with booze.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Jared: Probably when I greet a guest with a ‘How’s it goin’ or whatever and they just tell me what they want. ‘I’m f#%*!@ great, thanks for asking!

Elijah Larson
Wurst West

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Elijah: If I’m in an establishment that has a cocktail program, a Daiquiri. In a neighborhood dive, Miller High Life and a shot. In a corporate joint I almost always go for the sh*tty premix Piña Colada or Margarita. Damnit. Now I want a Sh*tty Piña Colada!

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Elijah: ICE!!!

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Elijah: Complacent/Lazy Managers. You’re being paid to be a leader, so f*cking lead!

Aaron Benson
Rustica

HPR: What is your drink of choice when you're on the other side of the bar?

Aaron: When I find myself belly up, I scan the cocktail list for something new that I have yet to try (always drinking for science).

HPR: If you were stranded on a desert island and had to man a DIY tiki bar, what bartending ingredients or tools would you not be able to live without?

Aaron: If I was allowed one bar tool whilst stranded on an island, I would have to bring my torch, because fire.

HPR: What is your #1 pet peeve as a bartender?

Aaron: If I tell you my pet peeve, the universe might just overhear. Not taking any chances, not this time.

IF YOU GO

HPR Bartenders Battle

Sunday, April 14, 4-10 p.m.

Holiday Inn Fargo, 3803 13th Ave S

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