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Bare Knuckle Madness At Tales Of The Cocktail

tales5by Dorothy Hernandez

If the hour-plus wait and getting shut down by the cops are any indication, the Bare Knuckles bar fight at the Jax Brewery was one of the hottest parties of Tales of the Cocktail Friday night in the Big Easy—and Texas was there to represent.

Since we couldn’t get in, we caught up with 86 Co.’s and Texas’ own Jason Kosmas the day after to get the scoop on the party where Bar Smyth was among the teams battling for fancy drinks supremacy and global domination, well at least bar domination.  

Seven bars from across the country duked it out, mixing cocktails with Fords Gin, Tequila Cabez, Cana BravaRum, Del Maguey Vida and Aylesbury Duck Vodka. The competing bars were New York’s Sweetleaf, San Diego’s Polite Provisions, Chicago’s Barrelhouse Flat, Miami’s The Broken Shaker, New York’s The Daily, Boston’s The Citizen Pub and of course Dallas’ Bar Smyth, which has generated quite the buzz since opening earlier this year with its creative cocktail lounge concept.

According to the website, teams were judged on the “basics of cocktail making: taste, balance of ingredients, creativity or adherence to the classic, use of spirit, and execution.” They were also judged on presentation, hospitality, teamwork, and speed.

The Bar Smyth team brought the fun and excitement, says Kosmas, one of the event organizers and judges, noting that their overall conceptualization and teamwork were standouts.

The recurring theme here at Tales at the different events is how fiercely loyal members of the Texas contingent are to each other.  “Everyone was making noise our way in true Texas fashion,” Kosmas says, complete with ringing of a dinner bell and prominently displayed flags.

Bonnie Wilson, bartender at The Ranch at Las Colinas in Irving, was among the Texas contingent cheering on her fellow bartenders, starting chants and whistling “Deep in the Heart of Dixie.”

They may work at different bars, but “we all work together really well,” she says, adding there is a great sense of camaraderie.

She gave props to the team’s execution and innovation.

They may not have won the Bare Knuckles bar fight (bars from the East Coast brought home the judges’ and People’s Choice prizes), but they were definitely the talk the next day around Tales with Mate Hartai’s backpack cocktail, which was a spicy concoction with mezcal. The backpack cocktail was basically a keg in a backpack with carbon dioxide canisters so he could walk around and squirt the libation into people’s waiting glasses.

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