Starting in late July, one of our favorite watering holes -- Star Bar -- will host its first Battle of the Nontenders, a guest bartending cocktail challenge designed for those of us who have no experience whatsoever slinging drinks behind the stick. "It can be challenging to get behind an unfamiliar bar, but if you're with the right people, it's a crazy rush and unbelievably fun, and that's why we're introducing the Star Bar Battle of the Nontenders," says Alexandra Geppert, secretary of the Colorado Bartenders Guild -- and a bartender at Star Bar.
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The shaker-to-shaker battles, which will unfurl on Star Bar's back patio every Thursday night, starting on July 25, kick off at 6:30 p.m. and last for two hours. A preview competition between me and another yet-to-be-named food writer will take place on Thursday, July 11. "It's a chance for Miss Food Writer, Mr. Accountant or Ms. Nurse to jump behind the bar and get in on the action," says Geppert, adding that anyone who's not a seasoned bartender is eligible to compete.
And since practice makes perfect, Star Bar is offering professional schooling for the competitors. "Most people will need a little practice first," admits Geppert, "so our coaches will hold a Bartending 101 training session that'll help the competitors get a handle on some basic cocktails and tools of the trade." And once you've mastered the fundamentals, you'll be scored on various criteria, including speed, style, creativity and charm, she adds.
In order to be considered for the challenge, you first need to submit a fifteen-second video (a Tout video is preferred) tooting your own horn, and, says Geppert, a "fitting title" to go along with it. And you'll need to post that video to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, complete with the tags @Starbar_denver and #nontenderbattle. In addition, you must share your video on Star Bar's Facebook page and e-mail the video to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is Friday, July 5.
"All of the nontenders can invite their friends and fans, and we encourage them to vote, tip and cheer you on," says Geppert. "You may even have some of your favorite bartenders in the crowd looking for something off-the-cuff and creative, but the coaches will be there to throw you a lifeline if you need it," she promises.
The winner of each round will return to compete in the weeks that follow, until one person is crowned the nontender cocktail champion. "If you're in, we'll assign you a date for your first battle so you can start getting your fan club excited and your battle uniform pressed," jokes Geppert.
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The best part? All of the tips from the entire series will be donated to a charity of the winner's choice.