The Final Four, Battle of the Bars and ‘Somm,’ the Film

If you heard an animal-like howl ring through the Valley last week, it was probably just me nursing a wicked hangover after the five rounds of the Las Vegas’ Best Bartender Competition held June 25 in the Alchemy Room at Wirtz Beverage Nevada. The daylong gauntlet kicked off with a 40-question exam. Then came the speed round, which tested the bartenders on the accuracy of six cocktails made against the clock and evaluated right down to the straw. During the pour test, their freepours were measured for volume accuracy. Points were also awarded and docked for hygiene, composure, neatness and style. Six contestants moved forward into the mixology round, where they could choose anything from behind the bar to create and name a great cocktail on the spot. Then came the hangover-inducing part, when the final four took turns bartending for we judges—who, incidentally, made complete asses of ourselves, behaving as would only the worst possible customers ever—to see who could stand the heat.

And now it’s time to celebrate and crown one bartender the victor! Come to Commonwealth on July 10 to cheer on Downtown Cocktail Room’s Kevin Gorham, Central’s Michael Przydzial, Vesper’s Roger Gross and Hakkasan’s Tim Weigel, all of whom will be guest-tending their hearts out from 7-10 p.m.. At 9:30 p.m., we’ll not only announce Las Vegas’ Best Bartender, but also the People’s Choice for that evening.

In other news, patrons of nine local bars—Steiner’s Pub, T-Bird Lounge, Rum Runner, Bogey’s, Boulevard Bar & Grill, Rocky’s, Torrey Pines Pub, Bentley’s and Gilligan’s Hideaway—will go head to head for $5,000 cash on Battle of the Bars, a new locally produced TV quiz show hosted by KLUC’s Chet Buchanan. The 4-week show will air on KVVU-TV Channel 5 late Friday nights, from 12:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m. July 6, July 13, July 20 and the finals on July 27. If all goes well, executive producer Mark Richards hopes to add nine bars to the mix for a total of 18.

Now, clear your evening, pop the cork on something delicious and absolutely freak out in your seat while you watch four Master Sommelier candidates grind out their last precious days of study time with flash cards and so, so much swirling, sniffing and spitting in Somm, the 2012 documentary directed by Jason Wise. I attended an industry screening at South Point on June 24, courtesy of Southern Wine & Spirits, in a theater filled with somms and wine industry professionals, many of whom have attempted the exam, some more than once. After watching the tears (both of joy and crushing defeat) I have a renewed respect for sommeliers. Cheers to all the cork dorks, winos, oenophiles and grape nuts! You make the wine world go ’round.

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