Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Tag Archives: mixology

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

A Dale DeGroff Top 10

What’s the big deal with this Dale DeGroff guy? Someone asked me that awhile back, and I hardly knew where to start. So, here are 10 reasons why you should care that DeGroff’s at the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival.   10. He’s the king. Really, when a guy knows so much about cocktails,… Continue Reading

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

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

Shrubbin’ it at Westport Cafe & Bar

Shrubs are a free-form thing. The basic formula’s pretty simple: fruit, sugar and vinegar. How much, what kinds, how they’re combined and how they’re used is then all up to the bartender. Arturo Vera-Felicie continues pushing the shrub envelope at The Farmhouse, most recently by bottling a fizzy cocktail called Ophelia’s Lament that combines aquavit… 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

At the bar: Gram & Dun

Few recent Plaza openings have made as big a splash as Gram & Dun. Maybe it’s because local restauranteur Alan Gaylin’s already built a following with BRGR Kitchen + Bar and Urban Table in Prairie Village. Maybe this spring weather has folks salivating over the pretty patio. Or maybe I’m just excited because Gram &… Continue Reading