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El Dorado Hosts Bartender Challenge

Girls fighting over guys. Guys fighting over girls. We love it. Girls and guys fighting over the perfect drink? Even better. On Tuesday, Nov. 29th, El Dorado is mixing, shaking, and stirring up a scene as it hosts a battle of the bottles in the 2nd Annual Bartender Challenge.

Fans of high-quality drinks and some friendly (although aggressive) competition are invited to watch the eight bartenders, five judges, and a bar full of cleverly-crafted drinks while also actively raising funds for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The Bartender Challenge was not made for the weak in mixology expertise. Trained and famed professionals will be competing neck and neck in the event, showcasing the very best of San Diego’s bar heroes. Using clever cooking skills, old-time traditions of drink making, and a touch of visual art, the rivalry is made to show off the intricate drink-making process and just how good-looking and delicious a libation can be.

It’s the who’s who of the San Diego bar scene bringing their A-game. Top contenders fighting for the prize include Dustin Haarstad of URBN, Tim Stevens of Prohibition, Steven Tuttle of El Dorado, Christian Siglin of Craft & Commerce, Sarah Ellis of Jaynes Gastropub, Garth Flood of Cowboy Star and Levi Walker of Monkey Paw. The reigning champ from last year’s battle, Noble Experiment bartender Anthony Schmidt, will return again this year to defend his title.

Here’s what’s shakin’: Each of the bartenders will have four minutes to create an original cocktail using pre-determined bases, smoothing or coloring agents, fresh ingredients and one unknown “modifying spirit” per round. If you love a good Iron Chef episode, you’ll be cheering on the competitors front row, up close and personal. Drinks with the highest scores as ranked among the guest judges will move on to the next round of cocktail construction, eliminating one bartender per round. The prize is more than bragging rights, as the winner will take home the Bartender Challenge Otis Buffalo Memorial Trophy, a bottle of Buffalo Trace, and a $200 cash prize. 

Judging the stiff competition will be a handful of experts in San Diego’s food and drink scene. You’ll spot Keli Dailey, restaurant and bar reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune, Brandon Hernandez, notable San Diego food and beverage writer, Kinsee Morlan, City Beat Editor & cocktail connoisseur, Trevor Easter, bar manager of San Francisco’s Rickhouse, and Erick Castro, brand ambassador for Plymouth & Beefeater Gin.

Of course, every drink, drink-maker and drinker will support an important San Diego institution. 100% of the proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s exhibitions and education programs. Raffle prizes will include goodies from various cocktail establishments.

Located in downtown San Diego's East Village, El Dorado brings in locals looking for live music, quality drinks, and retro charm. The Bartender Challengehas no cover, and doors will open at 6pm. Donations will be accepted.

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