On Monday, 10 of Halifax’s female bartenders will be put to the test for the city’s first Speed Rack competition. The women have to make four separate “classic” cocktails as quick as possible without compromising the quality of the drink.
The tournament was created by Ivy Mix and Lynette Marerro in 2011, both as a fundraising venture for breast cancer research and a way to promote women in the United States bar industry. Since then, it’s branched off to the UK and Canada.
Evelyn Chick—bar manager at Toronto’s Pretty Ugly bar and past Speed Rack finalist—says it’s beneficial that the event focuses on drinks “any standard, good bartender should be able to execute,” as well as raising money for charity.
“It’s more of a balance of doing something that’s charitable, and also coming together as a community to learn those new skills and techniques.”
For Speed Rack’s first time in Canada, women showed off their skills through video for a chance to attend the finals in Vancouver. Given the competition’s popularity, it’s happening differently this year, with preliminaries taking place in six different regions.
“More girls will have the chance to practice and participate in this event,” says Chick.
Morgan LeCreux of 2 Doors Down is one of the booze-mixing women taking part in Halifax’s qualifying round, which is happening at Highwayman on Monday evening. The speediest cocktail crafters will have the chance to represent Halifax in the Canadian Speed Rack finals in Toronto.
At first, LeCreux was reluctant to participate—she’s never been in a bartending competition before—but when she learned the event was a fundraiser, it was “an easy decision” to sign up.
“Even if I’m not terribly confident, it’s for a good cause and we’ll have a bit of fun.”
LeCreux is a self-described creative type, who was a pastry chef before she started bartending in December 2015. Although the gig comes with some pressure, she has a few pieces of advice for people who are new to the industry.
“You prioritize, you figure out what you have to do. Don’t stress about it—you can only go as fast as you can," she says. "The drinks will get made and they’ll get to the table when they have to do.”