Matt Biancaniello, head bartender at the Library Bar in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, was announced as the winner last night at a party at Elevate Lounge in downtown LA to celebrate the six finalists in Table 20's LA's Best Bartender competition. The other finalists included Joe Brooke from the Edison, Max Diaz of Cole's Red Car Bar, Devon Espinosa of the Tasting Kitchen, Dee Ann Quinones of Susan Feniger's Street, and Alex Straus of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica. Each of the finalists created a punch using Don Q rum and poured their hot and cold punches to the celebrants to get the attendees in a festive mood.
Michel Dozois's (above) of Neve Ice greeted guests and provided glasses filled with his ice to attendees as they walked in, so they could sample all six punches on offer. The location at Elevate Lounge / Takami, provided amazing views of downtown as it is on the top floor of a high rise building on the corner of Wilshire and Flower in downtown.
Matt Biancaniello (above) served an Indian inspired punch called Queen of the Night, which included star fruit with husk cherries floating in it, for a dramatic visual effect (below). The punch also includes pomegranate juice, roasted cumin seeds, and Don Q rum (of course).
Joe Brooke (below) arrived late as he, Alex and Matt had all just returned from BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource), a week long intensive educational program in New York City. He served a "State Fair Punch" whose preparation required the juicing of untold numbers of limes.
Devon Espinosa of the Tasting Kitchen in Venice (below) took a break from pouring punch to strike a pose. The event was judged by five bloggers: Caroline of Caroline on Crack, Chris Archibald of Liquor.com, Liz Steinhart of FoodSheThought, Kevin Hsu of kevinEats and Victoria of Vixen's L.A. Happy Hours. Alas Kevin was unable to attend do to a work committment, but the other judges were there in full force to celebrate the finalists and Matt's victory.
Table 20 founder Trevor Smith hosted the event and announced that the contest will happen again next year and that early in 2011, a "Bartender's Ball" will be held. Stay tuned for updates on that as more information becomes available. Table 20 is a new employment site for restaurants and bars, which recently launched in Los Angeles and San Francisco.