Local bartenders have fared very well in bartending competitions. In March, Ryan Gannon of Cure (4905 Freret Street, 504-302-2357; www.curenola.com) and Kent Westmoreland of the Windsor Court Hotel (300 Gravier Street, 504-523-6000; www.windsorcourthotel.com) each won top prizes in cocktail contests.
Gannon took home $5,000 and first place in PAMA's Are You Indispensable? competition in New York City. His Law-Abiding Citizen (PAMA pomegranate liqueur, amontillado sherry, lemon juice and simple syrup) beat more than 240 submissions from around the country.
Westmoreland's Un Soborno Para Ustedes won Reyka vodka's contest for the United States Bartenders Guild's (USBG) New Orleans members. Westmoreland's drink (translated as "a bribe for you") used Carpano Antica vermouth and apricot brandy. Westmoreland won a free trip to Buenos Aires for a Tales of the Cocktail (April 26–29) event. He'll assist William Grant & Sons brand ambassador Charlotte Voisey in tasting rooms and seminars.
Barmen Steve Yamada (Restaurant R'evolution, Bar R'evolution, 777 Bienville St., 504-553-2277; www.revolutionnola.com), Cole Newton (Twelve Mile Limit, 500 S. Telemachus St., 504-488-8114; www.facebook.com/twelve.milelimit) and Chris Hannah (Arnaud's French 75, 813 Bienville St., 504-523-5433; www.arnauds.com) advanced to the regional finals of Diageo World Class, arguably the world's most prestigious bartending competition.
"World Class is like the bartending decathlon — many events, but only one winner," says Yamada, president of USBG's New Orleans chapter. "What sets World Class apart is that it covers the full scope of bartending."
Bartenders had to write essays, finish coursework in spirits and service and create an original cocktail. Speed, accuracy, service and execution will be tested at the regional finals in Atlanta May 4. The U.S. finals are in New York City in June and the international finals are in the U.K. in July.
Newton submitted a Sazerac variation called the Lexington made with ginger liqueur, and it's often on the menu at Twelve Mile Limit. Yamada's salted cocktail was inspired by Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and Hannah's Greek mythology-inspired Thamyris is a gin sling pairing Tanqueray 10 and bitter, herbal Cynar.