Stoli to crown best LGBT bartender in Keys contest

Russian-stoli-bottle credit

Seventeen regional bartending champions are to converge on Key West June 7 to 11 for the final rounds of the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, believed to be North America’s largest annual LGBT bartender competition. In its fourth year, the event is presented in partnership with the Key West Business Guild and is a highlight of Key West Pride.

The contest features regional winners from LGBT bars in 17 North American cities competing to create an original Key West cocktail that reflects the island’s creativity and spirit. The first-prize mixologist is named honorary grand marshal of the 2017 Pride Parade and receives $12,500 for charity — $5,000 for a Key West charity and $7,500 for the winner’s hometown charity of choice.

Events are to begin with a party where cocktail fans can meet the Stoli contestants and judges. The event is set for 5 p.m. at the Island House guesthouse, 1129 Fleming St.

Two runoffs are scheduled June 9, each featuring bartenders battling to advance to the June 10 final round. Spectators can watch them demonstrate their talent and creativity at 5 p.m. at the 801 Bar, 801 Duval St.; and at 7 p.m. at the Sidebar, 504 Angela St.

June 10’s final round is scheduled for 7 p.m. on a stage in the 700 block of Duval Street. A panel of celebrity judges is to rate the dueling bartenders. Judges include singer/actress and former “American Idol” finalist LaToya London and Key West female impersonator Sushi.

The festivities culminate in the Pride parade, led by the Stoli winner and slated to begin at 5 p.m. June 11. The parade route proceeds up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Following the parade, Pride participants can attend Stoli’s after-parade party at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St.