In what we hope may become an annual event, eleven San Diego bars each sent one protégé to compete in the second Young Guns Bartender Competition last month. Seasoned professionals were relegated to the audience (and bar backing) to see what new tricks the younger drink makers in the San Diego cocktail scene could pull off.
Photos of the event were taken by Shawn Michael; you can see the full photo album on the Standard Spoon Facebook Page.
Complete with a host of sponsors, a panel of judges, a giant overhead fan, facepaint, and a playlist all over the place, it was a roaring event that carried late into the night, and produced three winners leading the pack of San Diego's newest talent.
First Place Winner Justin "Pidgeon" Richardson of Kettner Exchange in Little Italy
Second Place Winner Morgan Furrer of Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant
Third Place Winner Jaime Pawlowski of Coin-Op Game Room in North Park
The judges announced that the competition was fierce, and winners were determined by as close as a one-point difference in scoring! In addition to the three top scoring drinks, nearly a dozen delectable cocktails were crafted that night. Be sure to familiarize yourselves with this list of dynamic drink-slingers, and go on a young bartender hunt at these participating bars:
- 1st Place **Justin Richardson - Kettner Exchange
- 2nd Place ** Morgan Furrer - Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant
- 3rd Place ** Jamie Pawlowski - Coin-Op Game Room
- Brandon Curry - The Lion's Share
- Matt Raab - Park & Rec
- Jason Stanley - Dave & Buster's
- David Garcia - Fairweather
- Nick Messina - Sycamore Den
- Parker Marvin - Bracero
- Reese Honse - El Dorado Cocktail Lounge
- Abraham Jimenez - Juniper and Ivy
We were happy to be there, with the Aero Cocktail Spoon (our single-piece, straight handled, stainless steel bar spoon) featured as a gift to the winning bartender. Both the AERO and the WINGMAN bar spoons are now available for purchase online in our store.
The event was hosted by cocktail consulting company Rumbling Tins Co. at Coin-Op Game Room. Spirits sponsors included Old Forester Bourbon, George Dickel Whiskey, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Rutte Gin, Mandarine Napoleon Cognac, Giffard Liqueurs, Appleton Rum, and Espolon Tequila.
Special thanks goes to the panel of judges, including David Kinsey of Rumbling Tins Co. (also the new 'overlord of elixers' at the yet-to-debut bar & restaurant Kindred in South Park), last year's Young Guns Champion, John Dillon (catch him at Kindred with Kinsey), Candice Woo, founding editor of Eater San Diego, and 2015 National Speed Rack Champion Brittini Rae Peterson! Thanks for lending your time and taste-buds to this epic face-off!
Also, look out for the "Pineapple Express" cocktail by winner Justin "Pigeon" Richardson to be featured on menus around town. His winning cocktail incorporates serrano-infused tequila, mezcal, fresh lime, pineapple, and Demerara syrup for a kick in the tropical pants!
If you visit him at Kettner Exchange, you may catch him using the Aero Cocktail Spoon for stirred drinks, as Standard Spoon was proud to provide the champion with a new tool for his bar kit!
With two years' worth of young bartenders successfully debuted, what will Rumbling Tins Co. come up with next? They've been known to organize brewery/distillery tours to Mexico, and organize charitable events and food drives in the fall, in addition to consulting on new and renewed bar programs across San Diego County (check out their Facebook page for updates). We, for one, hope that the Young Guns event will enjoy a repeat next September.
Rachel Eva & Shawn Michael