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Monday, October 24, 2011

Speed Rack ladies battle for bar cred

The Speed Rack National Tour came to town on the last day of PDX Cocktail Week as 16 lady bartenders competed to determine who would be the next Miss Speed Rack Portland.  The event, part of a nationwide program, was a benefit for breast cancer research.  In a round robin format speed competition, two ladies went head to head in each round, racing the clock to make four cocktails specified by the panel of judges.  The judges, a group of Portland cocktail cognoscenti, then tasted the results and added time penalties for:
  • Being a “little off” (0:05”)
  • Being a little more off (0:10”)
  •  Being barely drinkable (0:15”)
  •  Being terrible (0:30”)

Penalties could be assessed for each of the four cocktails in a round, so if a contestant became confused, they could really add up.  Tensions ran high, mistakes were made, glasses were knocked off the bar.  Each round was a little more exciting as the better contestants went head to head.  A crew of volunteers set up the two stations between rounds with a variety of mixing glasses, spoons and shakers for preparing the cocktails. Then the contestants had a chance to do some fine tuning on positioning and familiarization with the set-up.  At the starter’s signal, the contestants went to work on the four cocktails. Some made their four cocktails in series (one after the other), while others made them in parallel.  In the early rounds, some peeked at their ingredient lists, but by the later rounds they all knew their stuff and the times got faster.  When the Speed Rack National Tour comes to your town, be sure to attend to support breast cancer research and cheer on your local lady bartenders.

For more images from Speed Rack Portland, see my slideshow on

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