Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Tag Archives: drinks

Conatser tops PoPFest Bartending Competition—again

In the weeks leading up to the Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition, much was made of the fact that Chris Conatser of Justus Drugstore placed every time he entered what was formerly known as the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition. And last night he kept the streak alive, taking first place with his Manhattan (in)Verse.

PoPFest Bartending Competition winners lookin’ pretty happy. From left, Berto Santoro (3rd), Matt Seiter (Fan Favorite), Jenn Tosatto (2nd) and Chris Conatser (1st).
That bring’s Conatser’s tally to two first-place wins (2008 & 2012), one second (2010) and a third (2009). Not that he was the only one to reaffirm his track record.
Second-place winner Jenn Tosatto, bar manager of The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, is a five-time finalist who placed third in 2008. Berto Santoro, Extra Virgin’s bar manager, and Matt Seiter of Sanctuaria, St. Louis were both onstage last year. Santoro took third in 2012; Seiter was voted Fan Favorite.
Theirs weren’t the only familiar faces.  Kansas City’s Travis Stewart of Port Fonda, Paige Unger of Michael Smith Restaurant and Arturo Vera-Felicie of The Farmhouse were all returning competitors. Other finalists included Chris Burmeister, The Goose and Bramble & Hare, Boulder, Colo.; Carol Donovan, Hearty Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.; Phoebe Esmon, Kennett South 2nd, Philadelphia, Pa.; Giovanni Ferlaino, Ludivine, Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Liz Pearce, The Drawing Room, Chicago, Ill.
Did they put on a good show? Absolutely. Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading

In season: lavender

Lavender is one of my favorite flowers, but I can never quite decide what to do with it. Dry it and use it in a lamb rub? Or sew it into sachets, like my friends at Washington Creek Lavender do? But it’s so lovely fresh. This year, the scent sent me to my cocktail books,… Continue Reading

Botanical bartending

There’s nothing new about bartenders using herbs. But no one does it quite like Chris Conatser of Justus Drugstore. That’s why a handful of Kansas City’s bartenders—many of them members of the KC Bartenders’ Guild, a newly formed chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild—trekked up to Paradise, Mo., earlier this week for Conatser’s take on… 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

Of shrubs and espresso

Shrubs are a cocktail ingredient, but why stop there? That’s what Caitlin “Corky” Corcoran, a barista at Parisi Artisan Coffee, figured. So she’s now combining all manner of fruits, vinegars and sweeteners into shrubs, and then matching them with espresso. “The cafe’s been letting me go wild,” Corcoran says. And for good reason. Corcoran first… Continue Reading

More than a shot of Irish

Admit it. You might just do a shot of Irish whiskey tomorrow. I don’t blame you. Those Jameson specials are hard to resist. Just remember that there’s more to Irish whiskey than St. Patrick’s Day. Irish whiskey is a fascinating spirit. Much of it is light and gentle, but there are plenty of heavyweights to… Continue Reading

Times have changed for Tuaca

It’s funny how things change. Take Tuaca. The first time I tasted this Italian brandy liqueur, it was at Jasper’s. Not the new Jasper’s, but the original at 75th and Wornall, maybe 20 years or so ago. It was an elegant thing back then, served in a warm snifter and meant to be savored slowly.… Continue Reading

Some like it sour

Sour is an essential component in cocktails. Freshly squeezed lemon and lime… they’re our friends, right? We don’t cringe when recipes call for an ounce or two. But vinegar? That’s another story. Vinegar is of course a familiar culinary ingredient, but one we’re more comfortable cooking with than drinking. Which is why a recent visit… Continue Reading

Guessing at 2012

What will 2012 bring for the drink-minded? It’s a bit of a guessing game, but I’m looking forward to writing more about shrubs, drinking vinegars and all things sour. Local spirits like those Lenexa’s Dark Horse Distillery is laying down. Drinks entrepreneurs such as Travis Stewart and Jason Burton. The inaugural Paris of the Plains… Continue Reading