Women are better bartenders than men… There, I said it.
Ok, before I get stoned by the fellas, and applauded by the ladies, let me explain…
This past July, Tales of the Cocktail was host to the first annual Mandarine Napoleon Imperial Battle of the Sexes. In this event, 8 of the best male and female bartenders from around the country were paired against each other to create their own signature cocktail using Mandarine Napoleon. The 200 guests that attended were used as the judges, and were allowed to taste all cocktails while enjoying some New Orleans style cuisine. At the end, one sex was crowned victorious, and can you tell who it was?
Representing the women were:
- Shel Bourdon: From Donna in Brooklyn and winner of the 2012 Last Slinger Standing Ultimate Shake Off competition during February’s Arizona Cocktail Week, the Arizona Bourbon Battle and Best Mixologist for 2012, as well as regional finalist in the Speed Rack National Competition, where she placed 5th overall.
- Lynnette Marrero, president and founder of LUPEC NYC, an organization to promote women bartenders while raising funds for women’s charities, co-creator of Speed Rack, a national cocktail competition featuring top female bartenders that raises money for breast cancer education, prevention and research, and who also creates bar programs in New York through her company Drinksat6.
- Naomi Schimek: beverage director at The Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Vice President of the LA chapter of the USBG
- Yael Vengroff, bar manager at Harvard & Stone in Hollywood and 2012 Speed Rack champion who early in her career was the youngest and second female bartender at Audrey Saunders’ iconic Pegu Club and head bartender at New York’s acclaimed Painkiller.
Representing the Men:
- Jeff Bell, head bartender at PDT in New York who was named 2013 StarChefs.com Rising Star Mixologist, one of Zagat’s 2013 30 Under 30 and Diageo World Class U.S. 2013 Bartender of the Year, representing the U.S. in the Global Finale, where he is currently one of 16 bartenders heading into the final round of eliminations.
- Sean Kenyon, owner of Williams and Graham in Denver, a semifinalist this year for a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Bar Program and beverage director at the highly acclaimed restaurant The Squeaky Bean.
- John Lermayer, head bartender at The Regent Cocktail Club at the Gale South Beach who has dominated the national and international competition circuit since winning the Bar Chef Challenge at Tales of the Cocktail in 2008.
- Steve Schneider, one of the principal bartenders at Employees Only in New York, former U.S. Marine who in the past year has set records in a global speed bartending competition and won an international cocktail competition in New Zealand, 2013 Star of the Bar at the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event in Chicago and is starring in Hey Bartender, a newly released feature film about bartenders and cocktail culture.
There was a lot of pressure in this one. The losers would be letting down an entire gender group. Heating things up, the women aired a slideshow highlighting embarrassing moments made by men, while the guys proudly sported “No Ma’am” shirts.
Either way, someone was gonna be left tucking their tail between their legs. In the end, the women were crowned champions, thus ending the battle, and further fueling the debate. I feel the pain for the guys in this one, and can only give them comfort in knowing, there’s always next year. Until then…