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Getting Tanked At Devoured
Phoenix Bartending Events

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Manny Pena of The Windsor.
Image by Gretchen Gesell.
The 1960s Had Woodstock But Today, The Phoenix Metro Has Drunkstock, Also Known As The Devoured Phoenix Bartending Competition


By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 27, 2017 — Like Woodstock in the 1960s, every decade has a defining event, a gathering of people that purely encapsulates the unique features of a time. As we sit here in 2017—witnessing a country bathed in ignorance and embracing the decline of the American experiment, our own personal fall of Rome ushered in by a cheeto-tinged Nero—the Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition is that event, because it is a chance to grab a stiff drink or 12 and forget the chaos, just for a little while.

It is an event that encourages us to indulge to the max in day drinking, an activity normally frowned upon by society at large. But sometimes, you need to throw up a big middle finger at society at large, and this is just the place to do it.

And for that, Devour Phoenix, I applaud you.

On a less philosophical note, I also give two thumbs up to the Bartending Competition because it is the most underrated Devour Phoenix event every year, which means you can often buy reasonably-priced tickets at the door. This is a nice change of pace from the Culinary Classic main event which usually sells out weeks, or even months, beforehand and costs over $100 per day (though it is worth every penny).

For the price of $40, event-goers received a card that allowed them to try a sample cocktail from 12 of the best bartenders in the Phoenix metro from The Gladly, The Clever Koi, The Parlor, St. Francis, Otro Cafe, DeSoto Central Market, The Vig, Windsor, Welcome Diner, Hula’s Modern Tiki, Citizen Public House, and Joyride Taco House. Attendees also get to sample straight liquor from sponsor distilleries like O.H.S.O., Hamilton Distillers, Paradox Distillery, and 3 Amigos Tequila.

While the amount of alcohol consumed easily makes the $45 price tag a steal, the quality of the cocktails also justifies the price. These aren’t your everyday whiskey sours or margaritas. Because the event is a competition, each bartender creates a unique concoction that you won’t find anywhere else, like Welcome Diner’s Connor Mansager, who won the competition with Love and Squalor, a cocktail that featured O.H.S.O. Distillery’s Horseradish Vodka, Iconic Cocktail Company’s lemon balm, beet syrup and other unique ingredients.

Welcome Diner’s cocktail for mass consumption was titled Ojos Rojos and was made with Whiskey Del Bac, BroVo Amaro #14, beet syrup, cowboy bitters and featured a beer and bacon garnish.

For the second year, Windsor won the fan vote People’s Choice Award with Green Expectations from bartender Manny Pena. It was made with O.H.S.O. Distillery’s Grapefruit Vodka, BroVo Amaro #14, grapefruit juice, lime juice, cilantro syrup, and aqua faba (bean water).

Because the cocktails are so fancy, it can be easy to forget that you’re getting hammered. That’s why you need to approach the competition with a gameplan. While freeing your inhibitions it is still important to remember that, when the competition is over and the drunken stupor wears off, you have to go back to real life and face everything that it has to offer—from your job and bills to racist grandpas and a wannabe dictator in a bad necktie running the country. And that, dear readers, requires clarity, strength, focus and other characteristics that don’t jive with a massive hangover.

So, in order to help you avoid facing too many of the deleterious effects of future day drinking binges and visits to Bartending Competition in years to come, I have spoke with bartenders, liquor purveyors and others at this year’s event to find out how you can drink all day and avoid throwing up all night.

Kapono Rowe, Mixologist, DeSoto Central Market
“Sneak in a shot of espresso; that’s what I do. That’s how I party. And after your third drink, order water with every drink.”

Madelyne Felsch, Bartender, Windsor
“Drink water the entire time and stay out of the sun. Take a break [once in awhile] even if you don’t want to.”

Nathan Thompson Avelino, Head Distiller, Hamilton Distillers
“Start months beforehand and drink more to get your tolerance up. Once you get a good base level, stay hydrated and don’t be stupid and you’ll be okay.”

Thompson Avelino noted that his “base level” tolerance is pretty high since he tastes Hamilton Distillers’ Del Bac Whiskey straight off the still when it’s at 140 proof.

Wayne Coats, General Manager, Welcome Diner Tucson
“Make sure you try all of the cocktails and stay hydrated.”
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