The Battle of the Bartenders

Who’s the best bartender in Vermont? On April 4 a Mixology Battle kicks off the Vermont Tourism Summit in Stowe.

This past season Stowe’s The Matterhorn Bar was named best apres ski bar in the country. But now the real competition begins: who is the best bartender in the state?

On April 6, Vermont bartenders will mix, shake, stir and pour as they vie for the coveted title of “Bartender of the Year”  at Stowe’s The Rusty Nail

Bartender comp photo socialNow in its second year, the Bartender of the Year contest is the kick-off event for the the Vermont Tourism Summit (formerly the Vermont Travel Industry Conference), a two-day industry conference held this year at Stoweflake Resort in Stowe. The event highlights not only the skills of the state’s best bartenders, it features high-quality pours from Vermont’s fast-growing distilled spirits industry.

“We’re looking forward to tasting the best of the best,” said Steve Cook, Vermont’s deputy tourism commissioner. “When you have these talented bartenders using the country’s most fantastic spirits, we’ll be pushing the envelope in terms of what’s possible from a beverage.”

Presented by Hotel Vermont, the Vermont Distiller’s Association, and Vermont Ski + Ride magazine, this battle amongst 12 of the state’s finest bartenders ends with one winner claiming the title of Vermont Bartender of the Year.

The competition consists of two rounds. In round one, contestants draw from a stocked pantry and randomly selected Vermont distilled spirit to create a cocktail. A judging panel of local experts plus input from the crowd will advance five winners to compete in the second round. In that round, contestants must use all the secret ingredients from a mystery box to whip up a cheers-worthy entry.

bartender imageThe winning cocktail will be featured at the Vermont Tourism Summit welcome reception and the champion bartender will be highlighted in Vermont Ski + Ride magazine. Last year’s winner was Matt Farkas from The Mule Bar in Winooski with a winning drink (recipe here) called “Father and Son.” 

The competition starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, at The Rusty Nail in Stowe. Admission costs $10 for spectators and a tasting bracelet is available for an additional $10 (good for one drink in each round). The Distilled Spirits Council of Vermont will be raffling off a “Vermont Instant Liquor Cabinet” during the event in which one lucky winner will take home a range of spirits made in Vermont.

Contest entrants must pre-register and hold current membership in the Vermont – Green Mountain chapter of the Vermont Bartenders Guild in order to compete. Find details and registration materials at

The Vermont Bartenders Guild seeks to recognize and raise the professionalism of bartending in Vermont’s hospitality driven economy. Vermont is a leader in crafting memorable food and drink

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.

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