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A Recipe for Bartender Rest & Relaxation
Hardworking bartenders deserve a bit of well-deserved R&R.
With enough time, anyone can make a perfect drink.
Now imagine doing that over and over again but in a limited amount of time, in front a roaring crowd and a panel of famous judges, and on a stage.
That’s the terrifying and electrifying premise of the national cocktail competition Speed Rack, which raises money for a variety of cancer causes. Even for pros, this is a daunting scenario and the female bartenders competing in the event practice for weeks and weeks beforehand in addition to their regular bar work.
“These bartenders work their butts off all year around, compete against each other and it’s not an easy competition,” says Robin Nance, Beam Suntory’s award-winning Portfolio Trade Engagement Manager.
It’s particularly impressive given that as bartending has once again become a noble and honorable profession, the demands of the job have only increased. “I used to go in maybe an hour ahead of when we opened, depending upon the size of the place,” remembers Nance, who “bartended back when it was not cool.” Thanks to ever more complicated drink recipes that require custom juices and custom syrups, prep can take hours and hours. As a result, some shifts are now routinely 15-hours long. And now that bartending is no longer just a stopgap between jobs, “it’s not something you just do a couple days a week anymore it is an on-going career,” she says.
To keep motivated, Nance suggests bartenders should “stay engaged and do things that are fun, but also take the time and recharge and make sure you’re doing something for yourself.”
To help the regional, national and wildcard winners do that, Speed Rack recently took all of them on a retreat to picturesque rural Wisconsin. During the getaway, the bartenders got to relax lakeside and enjoyed some swimming, embroidery, hiking, yoga and bonfire building. Thanks to Knob Creek’s continuing support of the competition, Nance and Adam Harris, the American Whiskey Ambassador at Beam Suntory, led a number of special events for the bartenders, including an educational session on personal branding. They also hosted a special whiskey tasting and selection of a private cask of Knob Creek Bourbon.
It’s a great fit for Knob Creek, which sponsors a number of drinks causes, including the Tales of the Cocktail conference. “The brand stands for earning it,” Nance says. For many drinkers, “they come home and at the end of the day Knob Creek is that special kind of treat for them. I worked really hard today and I’ve earned it!”
The getaway was a well-deserved break and a rare chance for the Speed Rack winners to unplug and recharge. The reward for a job well done!