By Jolene Ketzenberger
Three Indiana bartenders will be participating in an upcoming international drinks competition, an event one calls “the World Series of bartending.”
Joshua Gonzales, an owner at Thunderbird, Mike Madison, bartender at Twist Lounge, and Doug Spradley, bartender/assistant manager at Crazy Horse in Bloomington, all made the list of Midwest regional finalists who will compete in the World Class 2014 event in Chicago May 18.
“If there is a World Series of bartending,” said Gonzales, “this is definitely it.”
World Class U.S. is presented by the United States Bartenders’ Guild and sponsored by beverage company Diageo. Bartenders will be competing from five regions around the country; those winners will then participate in a national competition. The international competition will include bartenders from 50 countries around the world.
“It’s a big deal,” said Gonzales. “It’s judged by the very best bartenders in the world. It tests your skills on many levels as a bartender — service, technique, speed, creativity and drink knowledge.”
Eleven hundred U.S. bartenders applied to participate in the competition, Gonzales said. From that pool, 75 were chosen for the regional competitions, based on tests, essay questions and a recipe submission. “It was a pretty rigorous application process,” he said.
And even if he doesn’t advance beyond the regionals, the experience of being judged by the top names in the field “would be fantastic,” Gonzales said. “Having their input and their feedback would be an incredible experience in its own right.”