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Houston bar stars shake it up at boozy battle for best mixologist

Houston bar stars shake it up at boozy battle for best mixologist

Iron Bartender Todd Leveritt, Cat Nguyen, Linda Salinas, Antonio Gianola
Todd Leveritt, Cat Nguyen, Linda Salinas, and Antonio Gianola. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Kristine Nguyen, Jose Santiago, Garrett Jones, Carlos Chino Serrano
Iron Bartender finalists Kristine Nguyen, Jose Santiago, Garrett Jones, and Carlos Chino Serrano. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Tejas Chocolate barbecue pork belly
Tejas Chocolates + Barbecue served smoked pork belly with mole sauce. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Gatlin's BBQ Greg Gatlin Michelle Wallace
Greg Gatlin and Michelle Wallace from Gatlin's BBQ. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Roegels Barbecue whole hog
Roegels Barbecue served whole hog over cornbread with Carolina slaw. Photo by Eric Sandler
Iron Bartender Justin and Natalie Goodman
Justin and Natalie Goodman. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Ruben Ortega pastor taco
Ruben Ortega presents an al pastor taco. Photo by Eric Sandler
Iron Bartender Hubert and Monica Ho, Chienling and ChenWei Lee
Hubert and Monica Ho; Chienling and ChenWei Lee. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Alice Rohrman, Sean Beck, Carlos Chino Serrano, Doug Suggitt
Alice Rohrman, Sean Beck, Chino Serrano, and Doug Suggitt. Photo by Larry Geiger
Iron Bartender Todd Leveritt, Cat Nguyen, Linda Salinas, Antonio Gianola
Iron Bartender Kristine Nguyen, Jose Santiago, Garrett Jones, Carlos Chino Serrano
Iron Bartender Tejas Chocolate barbecue pork belly
Iron Bartender Gatlin's BBQ Greg Gatlin Michelle Wallace
Iron Bartender Roegels Barbecue whole hog
Iron Bartender Justin and Natalie Goodman
Iron Bartender Ruben Ortega pastor taco
Iron Bartender Hubert and Monica Ho, Chienling and ChenWei Lee
Iron Bartender Alice Rohrman, Sean Beck, Carlos Chino Serrano, Doug Suggitt

What: Iron Bartender Finals

Where: Backstreet Cafe

The scoop: Inspired by The Periwinkle Foundation's popular Iron Sommelier fundraiser, Iron Bartender sought to crown the city's best bartender. A panel of judges narrowed the field of 20 candidates to four finalists: Jose Santiago, BCN Taste & Tradition; Garrett Jones, Johnny’s Gold Brick; Kristine Nguyen, Nancy’s Hustle; and Carlos “Chino” Serrano, Xochi.

To determine a winner, each finalist prepared a cocktail to pair with a dish created by James Beard Award winner Hugo Ortega as part of a four-course meal served to VIP attendees. At the end of the night, Serrano emerged as the winner.

More importantly than the competition itself, the event raised $45,000 to benefit the Periwinkle Foundation's camp, arts, and survivor programs that annually touch the lives of more than 14,000 children, teens, and families battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

While the competition took place on Backstreet Cafe's second floor, attendees who stayed downstairs enjoyed cocktails from sponsors such as Four Roses, WhistlePig, and Hendrick's Gin while snacking on bites provided Monkey's Tail, Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue, Reveille Barbecue, Gatlin's BBQ, and Roegels Barbecue, which presented its new whole-hog barbecue that's inspired by owners Misty and Russell Roegels' recent trip to the Carolinas. 

Major applause to the night's organizers, especially Sean Beck, beverage director for Backstreet owners H-Town Restaurant Group, on pulling off such a successful first-year event. We can't wait for next year.

Who: Doug Suggitt, David Steinhart, Elizabeth and Anthony Garcia, Chris and Jane Harris, Cat Nguyen, Linda Salinas, Paul and Rhonda Gerson, Cheryl Gibbs, and Lindsay Heffron.