By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 12, 2019 at 6:30 PM

You’ve been "86’d." Cut. Eliminated. Sent home.

They’re words no one (ever) wants to hear. They’re also key words which will come into play during Central Standard Craft Distillery’s inaugural 86’d: Battle of the Bartenders competition taking place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25 at the Marcus Center’s Vogel Theater, 929 N. Water St.

"Anyone can make a great cocktail with a full bar and a week to plan," notes Central Standard co-founder Evan Hughes. "Let’s see how folks do with a ticking clock, four mandatory, mystery ingredients and a panel of Milwaukee’s best drinkers judging them."

Best of the best

Participating bartenders for the competition will include:

The competition will feature three consecutive timed rounds of cocktail creation. At the beginning o f each round, four competing bartenders will be given four mystery ingredients (along with a fully stocked bar) with which they will need to incorporate, under-the-gun, into a memorable cocktail.

Cocktails will be critiqued by a panel of judges based on presentation, taste and creativity and one bartender will be 86’d during each round, leaving one bartender standing to be crowned Milwaukee’s No. 1 Most Creative Mixologist.

Judges for the event include:

  • Joe Bartolotta, president and co-owner of the Bartolotta Restaurant Group
  • JC Cunningham, cocktail manager at Interval and Plum Lounge
  • Angie West, editor-in-chief of Alcoholmanac Magazine
  • Maybe you? The fourth judge will be one randomly selected cocktail drinker from the audience

The winner of the competition will be named Milwaukee’s first-ever "86’d" Champion. Prizes include $1,000 in cash and a full suite of Bar Fly bar tools from Boelter SuperStore.

Get your tickets ... before they're 86'd

Tickets are currently $18 and are available for purchase online. Tickets include a pre-competition cocktail from Central Standard, a custom pint glass
from Boelter SuperStore and a "make-your-own" Central Standard Bloody Mary kit.

If available, remaining tickets will be sold at the door on the evening of the event for $25. A $3 facilities charge will be applied to each ticket.

Along with on-the-spot cocktail creation on the stage, a full-cash bar of Central Standard cocktails, as well as beer, will be available during the battle of the bartenders.

"Hosting ‘86’d’ is our small way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those who make Milwaukee the best cocktail-drinking city in the country," says Central Standard co-founder Pat McQuillan. "We’re fired up about hosting this new event and hope all of Milwaukee comes out to cheer on their favorite bartenders."

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.