Monday, October 17, 2011

Justin Pike is LA's Best Bartender

In the second annual Table 20 LA's Best Bartender competition, The Tasting Kitchen head bartender Justin Pike was named the champion.  The finals were held at Elevate Lounge in Downtown LA and a panel of notable judges including King Cocktail Dale DeGroff, last year's winner Matt Biancaniello of Library Bar, pastry chef and Top Chef Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzinni, Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza, Marcos Tello of the Varnish and president of the LA chapter of the USBG, and Jessica Gelt of the LA Times decided the winner.

LA's Best Bartender winner Justin Pike (left) with Devon Tarby
The results were:

1st Place: Justin Pike, The Tasting Kitchen
2nd Place: Joe Brooke, Next Door Lounge
3rd Place: Devon Tarby, The Varnish
4th Place: Brian Summers, Harvard & Stone
5th Place: Daniel Zacharczuk, Bar Kitchen

In addition to the ceremonial crown, which was passed from Biancaniello, Pike won a trip to Tales of the Cocktail and a billboard with his picture announcing his championship will go up on Monday October 24th at the intersection of Wilshire & Sweetzer.

The Judges Panel, from left: DeGroff, Tello, Iuzinni, Gelt, Lopez
The competition, now in its second year, was organized by Table 20 and sponsored by Karlsson's Gold Vodka.  Each finalist had to prepare six cocktails for the judges in only twenty minutes.  Three of the cocktails had to be classics, two were up to the bartender and one had to incorporate Karlsson's.  Attendance was high and several hundred spectators crowded Elevate Lounge to watch the competition and try the cocktails.  The attendees voted on their favorite cocktail and the winner was Brian Summers's Blues in Orbit, with Karlsson's Gold Vodka, fresh lemon juice, mango juice, chipotle syrup, and a celery salt rim.

Judges Lopez & Biancaniello
The only drawback to the event was the long lines for the drinks from the public bar (the competitors were making drinks for the judges only, not attendees) and the rapidly diminishing quality of those cocktails at the public bar.  Master of Ceremonies Dan Dunn kept the event moving smoothly and once the winner was announced, the attendees decamped to the Varnish for an unofficial after party.  If you didn't come to this year, plan on it for next year.

1 comment:

  1. Brian's drink had plums, orgeat, etc. I think you gave the ingredients for Joe's Spicy Strander.