BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – It will be a battle of the sexes to determine Caribbean Week New York’s Mixologist of the Year at one of the most anticipated events on the tourism calendar in the “Big Apple”.
One male and one female mixologist will challenge each other in the Battle of the Mixologists at Rum & Rhythm at the Capitale in New York on Friday 3 June.
Four of the best women in the field will first compete in the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s Rum Rumble on Sunday 15 May at Rum House at The Hotel Edison on 228 West 47th Street in Manhattan to determine who will meet Sylvanus Johnson of St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the big final. They are Shannon Mustipher, brand ambassador for Denizen Rum and beverage director at Glady’s Caribbean in New York, which has one of the most diverse selections of Caribbean rums in NYC; Erika Ordonez, who currently delights patrons with her drinks at Slowly Shirley and at Porchlight Bar in Manhattan as well as Montana’s Trailhouse in Brooklyn; Selma Slabiak, a bartender for 16 years who has worked at Donna and Shanty and is currently the head mixologist at Aska; and Shantel Grant, a first generation Jamaican-American who demonstrates her bartending skills at Forrest Point in Brooklyn. They will prepare Tiki-inspired cocktails made with Caribbean rums.
Rum Rumble is a series of promotional mixologist competitions organized by the CTO as part of Caribbean Week New York. Held at Manhattan spots that are well known for their rum bars and popular mixologists, the competitions pit some of the leading bartenders against each other, each seeking a place in the final at Rum & Rhythm to determine the CTO Mixologist of the Year.
The finalist in the male category was chosen after the contest held on 24 April at Solomon and Kuff Rum Hall. Sylvanus Johnson became the top male mixologist by defeating three other competitors with his drink, Diabou, named after his village in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It featured Matusalem Platino and Matusalem Classico and included Thai basil and grilled pineapple juice.
The other competitors were: Shane Smith with his drink, The Sir Maxwell (named after his favourite concert player) featuring Mount Gay Eclipse; Austin Hartman, whose drink, Blood on the Water was reminiscent of a shark attack and featured Mount Gay Black Barrel and El Dorado 3; and Jeff Hazell, who took a journey around the Caribbean with his drink, Jet Pilot, featuring El Dorado 12.
This year’s Rum Rumbles are being coordinated by Nalini Tiwari of Adya Communications, the US representative of El Dorado, one of the Caribbean’s leading rums and a winner of multiple global awards. It is sponsored by Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.
This year is the fifth anniversary of Rum & Rhythm as a benefit for the CTO Foundation, a charity which offers scholarships and study grants to Caribbean students pursuing studies in tourism and hospitality and related subjects.
The Ultimate Caribbean Epicurean Experience on Friday 3 June will, for the first time, be held at the historic Capitale, a Roman classic 1895 landmark adorned with Corinthian columns, Venetian glass, marble mosaic floors and 65 foot ceilings.
Organized by the CTO, Caribbean Week New York is the largest, most engaging regional tourism activity in the “Big Apple” and typically attracts thousands of participants, including Caribbean tourism officials, the media, artists, performers, celebrity chefs, fashion designers, models, investors and other strategic partners. It showcases the sights, sounds, colours, culture and unique holiday experiences of the Caribbean and combines business sessions and consumer-oriented events with food, fashion, entertainment, sales and networking opportunities.