Event Photos Courtesy of Speed Rack
Did you hear? Ladies can make drinks just as well as — if not better than — men, despite their small hands and need to be out of sight before the start of night. This weekend, 20 ladies from Seattle, Portland, and beyond are competing “shaker to shaker” in the speed bartending competition known as Speed Rack. The organization rolls through Seattle on Sunday, February 8 from 2-6pm to raise money for breast cancer charities in a creative, interactive, and sometimes rather intoxicated way.
How it Works: The faster the better, as judges can “add time” for presentation, taste, or whatever reason they feel is appropriate (ie “I’m giving you 5 seconds because your rosemary wasn’t smacked enough.”), and time is bad.
After each round, a winner is declared, and the women still standing continue to compete until there’s only one gal remaining. Last year, the winner was Angel Teta, who pours in Portland at Ataula — and she’s back to defend her title of Miss Speed Rack Seattle and get another chance to compete in the NYC National Finals and a trip to Ireland.
I talked to Dannika Underhill, resident badass blonde of Percy’s & Co. in Ballard, with five quick questions about her bartending prowess and getting ready for her first competition.
What’s your favorite drink to drink? The Improved Whiskey Cocktail, by Jerry Thomas. It’s rye, simple, Luxardo Maraschino, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, stirred and served on the rocks in an absinthe-rinsed glass with a lemon twist.
Which drink do you like to make the most? Classic egg white sours. You have to use old school techniques and do it just right, or it’s a disaster—and you’ll know it right away. Plus, they’re often garnished beautifully. Even if it’s slammed, I enjoy making them.
What did you do to prepare for this? I made flashcards to memorize the specs of some of the more obscure classics and have been tightening up my fundamentals. But a busy night at Percy’s is plenty hectic enough to whip anyone into fighting shape.
Who is your biggest competition? Besides the jittery nerd inside of me who might freak out and knock over all the glasses? Angel. You have to be smart and consider that she’s a person who’s done and won this before.
Why is this cause important to you? I lost my aunt Mary in high school and it was devastating. She was young, healthy, and vibrant, and had a brand new baby. It tore my family apart. I know that if she were alive,s he’d be my most viciously proud supporter of competing in a contest where women are judged solely on skill.
Besides raising money for a great cause, there are also incredible bartenders and spirit companies ringing the room at Century Ballroom, where it all goes down. Attendees can wander the space, grabbing tastes of creative cocktails made by great bartenders and buy raffle tickets while watching the action. I had a blast last year and am looking forward to witnessing the (rather drunken) day again.
Other Seattle competitors include local lady legends Kate Perry of Rumba, Kathleen Manley of Rob Roy, Missy Berens of The Comet and Poquitos, Tara McLaughlin of Artusi, Haley Holman of Liberty, Jennifer Aileen Akin of Oliver’s Twist, Alena Harbi of Agrodolce, Anh Nguyen of Momiji, Holly Pugsley of Anchovies & Olives and Tallulah’s, and Bridget Maloney and Emily Wilcher of Witness.
Tickets are $25 in advance, $20 day of and available here.
Also this weekend: A Gorgeous View at Women Stars of Food and Wine
If wine and food are more your thing, the Women Stars of Food and Wine event at the 75th Floor Columbia Tower Club is a great excuse to hang out with some pretty incredible women in the industry. A fundraiser for the Women’s Funding Alliance, guests get to eat food from chefs like Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata, Kate Gallego of Vespolina, and Monica Dimas of Nacho Borracho.
Winos can finally ask their burning questions of Queens of Industry like Somms Lisa Rongren of The Herbfarm, Katelyn Peil of Purple, Mackenzie Parks of El Gaucho, and April Pogue of Loulay. Or, chat with one of the 20 women winemakers who are gathering for the occasion.
The Women’s Funding Alliance, if you’re not familiar, is an organization that was created to help women achieve positions of leadership and create opportunity for women and girls to thrive. So, pretty important…
Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 at the door with some discounts for pairs and groups, available here