Bar Wars 2016 is well under way, and you can help decide who will be the winner when you go to the eight participating bars and try their cocktails. This year, the theme is "Asheville Takes Manhattan." Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, and often garnished with a Maraschino or brandied cherry, the Manhattan is one of the most classic and sophisticated cocktails out there. The competition culminates on Sunday, December 4th with an event at the Salvage Station, where the four finalists will be put to the test during a Manhattan mix-off in front of a panel of judges. As an end cap to the nine-day event, there will be a Repeal Day cocktail party on Monday, December 5th at Smoky Park Supper Club, where guests will be treated to a special menu and a talk from cocktail history expert Philip Greene, the authority on Manhattans and author of The Manhattan: The Story of the First Modern Cocktail.
The competition nods to the big city in its aesthetic as well. Participants will receive a "subway map" where they can track the bars they've visited and note their top picks. The eight bars competing are:
The Imperial Life
Smoky Park Supper Club
The Montford Rooftop Bar
You'll have until closing time on Friday, 12/2 to taste them all and pick a winner. Your subway card can be turned in at any bar participating. After that, votes will be tallied and the four finalists will be announced on Saturday, 12/3. On Sunday, head on down to the Salvage Station from 3-5 pm. Your $10 ticket includes a taste of all of the finalists' Manhattans and a chance to see the judging round. The final decision will be made by a judging panel composed of Greene, Graham Averill (who will cover the event for Paste), and Dusty Allison.
Monday, 12/5 is Repeal Day, marking the end of Prohibition. Celebrate in style at Smoky Park Supper Club, where you'll enjoy cocktails, heavy hors d'oeuvres, and a talk from Greene on the history of the Manhattan. Event organizer and owner of Spirit Savvy Cocktails says of Greene that "he's an amazing storyteller and a wealth of juicy information. He'll be talking about the drink and the introduction of Vermouth to America, how it weaves its way through history and how it has spawned innovation." He'll also do a book signing. Tickets are $75.
Bar Wars was created by Rich to "promote the innovative cocktail culture of the city for locals and visitors alike." That's part of her mission with Spirit Savvy Cocktails, a boutique cocktail, event production, and consulting company. Greene is the event's special guest, and his book is the inspiration for this year's cocktail choice. An attorney, acclaimed author, and cocktail historian, he is also the author of To Have and to Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion. He is the co-founder of the American Cocktail Museum in New Orleans.
For more information on Bar Wars and to get your tickets for the Salvage Station and Smoky Park Supper club, visit Spirit Savvy's website. And check out the awesome event preview video, below:
2016 Bar Wars sponsors are: Woodford Reserve, Hyatt Place, Haus Alpenz, Image Smith.
Sponsors for Repeal Day with Philip Greene: A Tale of the Manhattan are: Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch, Milagro Tequila, Woodford Reserve, Conniption Gin, Haus Alpenz, and Hyatt Place.