Ryan Koontz Takes 1st in USBG Southwest Regional

[reposted from El Dorado]

At the beginning of June, our very own Ryan Koontz headed out to Wirtz Beverage Co in Las Vegas, NV to compete in the Southwest Regional Final for the USBG’s National Cocktail Contest. Competing against contenders from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New Mexico, Phoenix, Tuscon, Las Vegas and Aspen, Ryan cranked out 4 of our own “Holy Roses” cocktails, using Beefeater 24, Cocchi Americano, Maraschino, Rose Water, Cucumber, and Cracked Salt – all in under 6 minutes.


When the tins were dry and the glasses were empty, one winner was named, and that winner was Ryan Koontz. He now goes on to compete in Chicago against 3 other regional finalists in the National Finals. The winner of this round gets shipped off to Prague to represent the US, and will also make a stop by the Beefeater distillery in London.

This competition was highly scrutinized, not just on the flavor and balance of the drink, but also on the technical proficiency of the bartender. Ryan said the competition was “completely nerve-wracking”, and this is the same guy that always looks comfortable, whether he’s 3 deep on a crazy Friday night at El D, or rocking the stage in one of his various music projects around the country. As you can check out in this video below, the rules are some of the most strict and intense you’ll find in the competition circuit. This isn’t Speed Rack or Fastest Hands; speed is important, but cleanliness will make or break you. 25% of the final score was based solely on technique.

“There was even a white napkin under my entire station to monitor drops or spills.” Yikes. Next time you see Ryan tell him congrats and wish him the best of luck as we all do on his next competition in Chicago. With any luck he’ll be sending us El Dorado Around The World photos from Prague in no time!