Two of Tavola’s bartenders are shaking up national drinks-related competitions. Bar manager Steve Yang was named one of 12 regional finalists in the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s annual World Class bartending competition. “Qualifying is both humbling and terrifying,” Yang says of going shaker-to-shaker with some of the best bartenders in the country.
An expert panel reviewed applicants’ essays and replicated their cocktail recipes. Yang submitted the Inquisitions, which is made up of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Cynar, Cocchi di Torino, Benedictine, Angostura orange bitters and a rinse of Caol Ila 12 Scotch Whisky. The regional finalists compete on May 7 in Washington, D.C., and three national finalists will move on to compete for the title of U.S. Bartender of the Year.
Assistant bar manager Rebecca Edwards will participate in the Speed Rack Mid Atlantic regional on March 19 at Union Stage in Washington, D.C. Speed Rack is a national, women-only speed bartending competition that spotlights female mixologists who work in a male-dominated field, all while raising money for breast cancer research, education and prevention.
The lengthy application process included essays and even a video component, but Edwards’ reason for wanting to compete is simple: “I’m passionate about any event that increases the visibility of women in the restaurant industry,” she says. There are four rounds total: The first round focuses on speed alone, and the eight fastest bartenders proceed to round two, where they’re judged on speed, technique and overall skill. Edwards says that there’s a list of “roughly 100” cocktails that Speed Rack competitors are urged to know, so she’s been preparing with a series of flashcards and some help from her colleagues. “Busy Friday nights at Tavola are good practice, too,” she adds.
Little Star shines bright
The Oakhart Social duo of chef Tristan Wraight and general manager Ben Clore are teaming up with chef Ryan Collins of Early Mountain Vineyards to bring Little Star, a new restaurant, to the space most recently occupied by Three Penny Café.
The three showcased a sneak peek of the dishes-yet-to-come in a two-evening pop-up at Oakhart February 27 and 28. On the menu: tuna ceviche with kumquat, coconut leche de tigre, almonds, serrano peppers, cilantro and toasted amaranth; dry aged ribeye carpaccio with grilled cactus, Parmesan, chive blossoms and migas; the deceivingly simple-sounding sunny side up eggs with salsa negra green onion, cilantro, sesame seeds, hickory syrup and grilled bread; wood roasted lamb neck with braised cabbage, guajillo chile broth and hominy corn; and soft and crispy pork ribs with salsa naranja, white onion, epazote and crispy ancho chile. The Pen + Knife blog team shares a dispatch from the popup that declares if “you don’t like ceviche, this dish will be your religious conversion.” That’s enough to pique our interest—more details to come on opening day, likely in the summertime.
Our cups runneth over
The winners of the 2018 Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor’s Cup were announced in late February. Of the 442 Virginia wines that a group of world-class judges sampled from 100 Virginia wineries, just 12 wines—the highest-ranking reds and the highest-ranking whites—make up the Governor’s Case. Local wines from Barboursville Vineyards, Early Mountain Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & Winery and King Family Vineyards hold seven of those 12 spots, with King Family Vineyards’ 2014 Meritage taking top honors overall. All wines entered in the competition were made from 100 percent Virginia fruit.—C-VILLE’s At the Table columnist C. Simon Davidson and writers from the Pen + Knife blog contributed to this column.