KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Seventeen regional bartending champions are to converge on Key West Wednesday through Sunday, June 7-11, for the final rounds of the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, believed to be North America's largest annual LGBT bartender competition. Now in its fourth year, the cocktail classic is presented in partnership with the Key West Business Guild and is a highlight of Key West Pride.
The contest features regional winners from LGBT bars in 17 North American cities, all competing to create an original Key West cocktail that reflects the island's creativity and spirit. The first-prize mixologist is named honorary grand marshal of the 2017 Pride Parade and receives $12,500 for charity — $5,000 for a Key West charity and $7,500 for the winner's hometown charity of choice.
Events are to begin with a Pride kick-off gala where cocktail fans can meet the Stoli contestants and judges. The all-welcome event is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at Key West's acclaimed Island House, 1129 Fleming St.
Two runoffs are scheduled Friday, June 9, each featuring multiple bartenders battling to advance to Saturday night's final round. Spectators can watch them demonstrate their talent and creativity at 5 p.m. at the 801 Bar, 801 Duval St.; and at 7 p.m. at the Sidebar, 504 Angela St.
Following the runoffs, contestants and cocktail fans can attend a 9 p.m. prefinals party at the Sidebar featuring the artistry of the Luna Storme Aerial Performers.
Saturday's final round is scheduled for 7 p.m. on an open-air stage in the 700 block of Duval Street in the heart of Key West's LGBT entertainment district. Stoli USA's national LGBT ambassador Patrik Gallineaux is to host, accompanied by "Real Housewives of Dallas" star LeeAnne Locken.
A panel of celebrity judges is to rate the dueling bartenders. Judges include singer/actress and former "American Idol" finalist LaToya London and renowned Key West female impersonator Sushi.
Hit recording artist Kym Sims is scheduled to entertain the audience.
The festivities culminate in the Pride parade, led by the Stoli winner and slated to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 11. The parade route proceeds up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the parade, Pride participants can attend Stoli's official after-parade party at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St., home of Key West's popular Sunday Tea Dance.
Event information and schedule: out.com/keywestcocktailclassic
The contest features regional winners from LGBT bars in 17 North American cities, all competing to create an original Key West cocktail that reflects the island's creativity and spirit.
Kayla Hasbrook of ABC Cocina was named New York City finalist for her winning cocktail, Cat’s Meow.
The festivities culminate in the Pride parade, led by the Stoli winner.