Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Tag Archives: Brandon Cummins

PoPFest Bartending Competition goes big

There’s nothing like strolling into your favorite bar, takin’ a seat and watching a great bartender go to work. Unless you go to the Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition on Sunday night, where you can see a dozen of the country’s best mix it up on Sunday night as they vie for the $1,750 in prize money, not to mention free press and bragging rights.

The event might feel familiar to those who’ve attending the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition over the past five years. The PoPFest version is again organized by Ryan Maybee of The Rieger/Manifesto, wine and spirits savant Doug Frost and Brandon Cummins, an all-around awesome cocktail dude. It’s again at The Uptown Theater. And there will again be a tasting room and food from local restaurants.

But this year, I promise you, it will be even bigger and better.

Finalists from Kansas City, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma will batch their drinks for the tasting room, and then make them onstage for the judges. They’ll also have to prepare a surprise classic cocktail (check out the Top 26 as chosen by Barsmarts) and demonstrate their industry knowledge.

The Farmhouse, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen, The American Restaurant, Local Pig, Chez Elle Creperie & Coffeehouse, Farm To Market Bread Co. and Gram & Dun are providing food. There will also be live music from Loaded Goat (a local band featuring The Drop’s Eddie Crane), The Late Night Callers and The Grisly Hand and burlesque performances, if you’re into that sorta thing. You get all that for $25, plus one free drink token.

Pernod Ricard USA’s sponsoring this year’s event, so it will be awash in brands like Absolut vodka, Jameson Irish whiskey, Chivas Scotch, Glenlivet single malt, Beefeater and Plymouth gin, Avion tequila and Kahlua liqueur.

Can’t wait to see what these finalists do with all that:

Chris Burmeister, The Goose and Bramble & Hare, Boulder, Colo.

Chris Conatser, Justus Drugstore, Kansas City, Mo. (first place, 2008; third, 2009; second, 2010)

Carol Donovan, Hearty Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.

Phoebe Esmon, Kennett South 2nd, Philadelphia, Pa.

Giovanni Ferlaino, Ludivine, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Liz Pearce, The Drawing Room, Chicago, Ill.

Alberto Santoro, Extra Virgin, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist, 2011)

Matt Seiter, Sanctuaria, St. Louis, Mo. (finalist, 2011)

Travis Stewart, Port Fonda, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist, 2010 and 2011)

Jenn Tosatto, The Rieger Hotel / Manifesto, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011)

Paige Unger, Michael Smith Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist 2010 and 2011)

Arturo Vera-Felicie, The Farmhouse, Kansas City, Mo. (finalist 2008; first place, 2009)

Paris of the Plains pops in Kansas City

In 2007, Ryan Maybee and Doug Frost started a little thing called the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition. Well, little in comparison to what that event’s grown into—the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival. The week-long event’s already underway, and I wrote about it in today’s Kansas City Star (KC’s cocktail culture births Paris of… Continue Reading

Kansas City’s first drink of the night

If this doesn’t get you jazzed about Kansas City’s cocktail community, I don’t know what will. VIDEO: The  First Drink of the Night—Paris of the Plains While most of Tanqueray’s “The First Drink of the Night” videos feature individual bartenders, there was no way that could happen in KC, Lindsey Johnson told me during a… Continue Reading

Texas Treasure Hunt

Finding a drink on the road is like a treasure hunt. Start with at least one solid clue, and tracking cocktails becomes a happy game. It certainly was for us last weekend down in Fort Worth, where we went to cheer on K-State in the Cotton Bowl. One message on Facebook yielded several clues from… Continue Reading

Leftover lifespan

I love party leftovers. Especially after parties like The Art of the Cocktail, a fundraiser for Friends of Turning Point on June 24. Ryan Maybee of The Rieger and Manifesto orchestrated six well-crafted cocktails, while  Kansas City Bartenders’ Alliance members served them up. (Special thanks to our celebrity crew: Jenn Tosatto of The Rieger/Manifesto, Travis… Continue Reading

Read, Shake, Sip Redux

For those of you who missed yesterday’s Kansas City Star, here’s a list of some worthy cocktails and spirits reads. For those of you who did see it, read on—there are a few extra bits that didn’t make it into the printed version. The King of Vodka—Linda Himelstein recounts Pyotr Smirnov’s rise from serfdom to… Continue Reading

GKCBC finalists announced

The Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition finalists have been announced. Wanna see them in action? Then come come to The Uptown Theater on Aug. 29; tickets are $15 each online, or check them out at their home bar. Can’t wait? Catch the vibe in this short b&w video created by Brandon Cummins, bartender turned image… Continue Reading