Battle for bartending’s best

Sarah Srsen of LeRoy’s Sweets Hotel pours samples during the Best Bartender competition in 2014 at the Hormel Historic Home Wednesday. Herald file photo

Sarah Srsen of LeRoy’s Sweets Hotel pours samples during the Best Bartender competition in 2014 at the Hormel Historic Home Wednesday. Herald file photo

The bartenders are returning to the Hormel Historic Home.

Competing bartenders in the Best Bartender Contest will turn slinging and mixing drinks into an art form and this year more than other years the public will have more of a say in how things turn out.

“We have judges but this year the people get to vote,” said Hormel Historic Home executive director Holly Johnson. “Person with the most people’s choice votes get an extra bump in points.”

As in years past people will also still be able to vote for the individual awards like best martini and bloody Mary.

Johnson said the more public participation came directly from the feedback of those that have attended past events.

“And that’s based on feedback from previous years,” she said.

Luke Harrington, bartender for the Hormel Historic home said that main competition breaks down into four primary areas: Best Bloody Mary, Signature Drink, Signature Martini and Top 10. The competition begins at 6 p.m. with the Signature Drink and usually ends with the Top 10 where 10 drinks are read off and the first bartender to make all 10 correctly and bring them to the judges table wins.

“That’s the most fun,” Harrginton said. “The most like a real bar.”

The winner will be announced around 8 p.m.

Around 100 people so far are expected to show up which Johnson says is pretty on par with previous years.

“It’s funny,” she said. “It’s been steady (in previous years), right around 100 people, but it seems like we’re getting a lot more exposure.”

She said the interest has grow partly because the contest appeals to a different kind of crowd than what usually attends events at the Hormel Historic Home.

“A. It’s fun,” Johnson said. “B. On reality TV people are competing all over the media for various things. The audience enjoys seeing people in friendly competition and they like to hear voices being heard when they are allowed to vote for something.”

However, the experience is just as fun for the bartenders who get the chance to hang out with and compete with fellow drink-slingers.

“Generally, bartenders always work weekends,” Harrington said. “They don’t always get to work together.”

Both Sarah Srsen of Sweets Hotel in LeRoy as well as the B & J’s Shelley LeTendre will make their return to this year’s competition. Food will be supplied by the B & J and music will be provided by JT Thompson. The door fee is $5.

“Really, there are a lot of people who have never been to the Hormel Historic Home,” Johnson said. “This type of event allows for an even wider audience to experience the historic aspect as well as the social aspect.”

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