Think “Restaurant Wars” (a la Top Chef) for bartenders. This year at Portland Cocktail Week, Bacardi sponsored a bar challenge. There were four teams made up of eight students each, a mixture of the different education majors at PDXCW. They had to create a bar, from concept to design to entertainment to the menu, in just 10 hours!
Working at Pure Space in the Pearl District, the empty warehouse space was converted into four bars: Bar Belle, Passenger, Ramble House and Where’s the Orgy At. Guests wandered from bar to bar and then voted for their favorites with their tokens.
We started at Passenger, the travel-themed bar where they served a Puerto Rico Punch (Bacardi heritage rum, Benedictine, St. Germain, lime, grapefruit oleo, burgundy tea), Eastern Smash (Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini Rossi sweet vermouth, ginger, orange) and Coastal Collins (Bombay Sapphire gin, lime, soda).
Next door was the French-themed Bar Belle, where the vibe was sexy, from the burlesque dancer in the corner to the male bartenders (ie. Seven Grand’s Luke Ford) in silver short-shorts. The drink menu, which was printed on CDs/coasters, included Menage a Poire (Grey Goose Poire, Cardamaro, lime, cloves, orange, bitters), Les Fleur$ (hibiscus-infused Grey Goose, St. Germain, simple syrup, lemon) and La Belle Highland (Dewars white, Martini & Rossi rosso vermouth, lemon, honey, Angostura bitters).
Next we wandered around the corner to the tongue-in-cheek Where’s the Orgy At, where the team, including Jen Len from Cana Rum Bar and Jim Romdall from Seattle, served Struggle Cuddle punch (Bacardi 1909, Bacardi 8, Martini & Rosso vermouth, BG Reynold’s orgeat, all-spice, black, tea, lemon), Mustache Ride (Dewars 12, Benedictine, Stumptown cold-press coffee, Angostura bitters), and Money Shot & a “beer” (Bacardi Oakheart spiced rum and coconut cream; beer (carbonated hop-infused Noilly Prat dry vermouth).
Last but not least, we ended up at the “local neighborhood bar” Ramble House where Seven Grand’s Dustin Newsome walked around with the Boilermaker (Dewars 12, beer, high-five) and the bar served Mamie Taylor (Dewars, lime, demerara, ginger, seltzer) and Ramble (Bacardi 8, Dewars 12, lemon, cinnamon).
All of the teams did an amazing job and this was one of the most fun events of the week! Who won? Well, Ramble House won the competition but as cliche as it sounds, they were all winners!