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Hot Cocktail Games

Does Houston have the best bartenders in America? This hot cocktail wiz is looking to make her case

Leslie Ross and Laurie Sheddan Ladies of Libation at Triniti
Leslie Ross, left, and Laurie Sheddan are Triniti's Ladies of Libation; Ross will compete in the annual Shake it Up competition in Vegas.  Photo courtesy of Triniti
Tales of the Cocktail, Leslie Ross, Caorunn Gin Storytellers USA Competition
Ross established her reputation as a fierce competitor at the Caorunn Gin Global Storytellers Competition in New Orleans. Courtesy Photo
Leslie Ross and Laurie Sheddan Ladies of Libation at Triniti
Tales of the Cocktail, Leslie Ross, Caorunn Gin Storytellers USA Competition

Over the past couple of months, Triniti bartenders Leslie Ross and and Laurie Sheddan have made the River Oaks restaurant a must-try cocktail destination. Now Ross, one half of the Ladies of Libation, is heading to Las Vegas as one of 15 bartenders nationwide to compete in the Shake It Up competition at the Nightclub and Bar convention and trade show, which will be the national qualifier for the IBA World Cocktail Competition.

"I am so happy and just incredibly fortunate to be representing Texas in this event," Ross tells CultureMap in an email. "The comp itself has a neat premise. All 15 of us will be given a different base spirit the day before, and given three to four hours of development time to figure out what we are going to do.

"The category is 'Fancy Cocktails,' so anything goes. I have been reading and practicing techniques, making notes about possible combinations of flavors, garnishes, etc . . ."

Ross is no strangers to these sort of events. She earned a spot in Gaz Regan's 101 Best New Cocktails after winning a statewide competition sponsored by Don Julio, which she followed up by taking the top prize at the United States finals of the Caorunn Gin Global Storytellers Competition in New Orleans.

"The competition itself is an honor, and I'm going to get to compete with my friends from all different parts of the U.S., which makes this so much fun, and such a wonderful opportunity," Ross writes. "I'm also going to get to meet and compete with and exchange knowledge with some of the bartenders I have the utmost respect for and really look up to in this industry. I mean, how great is that??" 

If Ross wins in Vegas, she'll go on to represent the U.S. in South Africa at the IBA World Cocktail Championship, which, as she notes, would be pretty great. In the meantime, put her to the test by stopping at Triniti and asking her to make something delicious. 

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