Cool Factor: Cocktail Coolers in the LA Times Magazine
Announcing the Sugar Spirit Project

Contest: The Auchentoshan Switch

I've just learned that I'll be helping judge the finals of The Auchentoshan Switch contest in Las Vegas this October. I am already jealous of the person who wins. 

We'll pick a winner out of 20(!) finalists in Vegas to fly to London for a two-week job at  69 Colebrooke Row, one of the world's best molecular mixology bars. A UK winner in London will also land a job at an American bar (not allowed to say which but I think it's in New York). 

I am trying to convince Auchentoshan that they need a journalist to 'switch' and report from 69 Colebrooke Row also but that might take some doing... 

The contest is open through August 31. Bartenders must make two drinks in a video for a chance to be flown to Vegas for the finals. The full contest announcement is below. (If you see a link, click it to keep reading.)

Auchentoshan® Lowland Single Malt Scotch WhiskyAnd The United States Bartenders’ Guild Presents


A Trans-Continental Bartender SwapTwo Lucky Bartenders “SWITCH” Places and Travel Across The Pond For A Working Stint At A Top Bar in London and New York City

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Experience Each Other’s Cocktail Culture Firsthand

Glasgow, Scotland (July 2011) - Have you ever dreamt about switching jobs for aweek? Taking a spot behind the rail of a legendary bar an ocean away and immersingyourself in its culture? Perhaps you can, if you are a bartender in the US or the UK.Auchentoshan® Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, the only triple-distilled Scottishsingle malt, has launched a bartender talent search like no other to find twooutstanding barkeeps in the US and the UK ready to switch places and switch countriesfor two weeks. Presenting The Auchentoshan Switch.

The road to get there will be exactly the same in each country – first, contestants mustenter a video of themselves making a homemade lemonade and an Old Fashionedcocktail with Auchentoshan Three Wood. Next, 20 semi-finalists will travel to LasVegas (and London in the UK) to enter the showdown hosted by the United StatesBartenders’ Guild (USBG) where the top bartender will be named. Auchentoshan haspartnered with two of the most outstanding bars in eachcountry to act as the host venues for the final two bartendersin New York and London. The Auchentoshan Switch is open to all licensed bartenders in the US and UK (see terms & conditions for complete information).

Bartenders can enter their videos from July 1 to August 31 The Las Vegas and London showdown willtake place in October 2011 and the actual switch will take place in early 2012.

VIDEO ENTRY. Entering the Auchentoshan Switch requires a video and two drinks, specifically alemonade and an Old Fashioned made with Auchentoshan Three Wood, a liquid of unique complexity thathas rested in three different types of casks – first in American Bourbon then to Spanish Oloroso Sherry andfinally in Pedro Ximenez Sherry – before being bottled, giving it a unique complexity. Bartenders who wishto enter must film themselves (no need for Oscar level movies here, a smart phone will do) making thesetwo drinks (p.s., the lemonade will show their knowledge of the sweet/sour balance). Contestants shouldbe as engaging as they dare to captivate the judges’ attention. Videos can be no longer than four minutesand must be received by August 31, 2011 via

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Once the entry period is over, judges in both countries will meticulously reviewall videos and choose their top 20 semi-finalists. These bartenders will be invited to attend a one-day finalround hosted by USBG in Las Vegas in October 2011 where the top bartender will be determined.

THE SWITCH. The Switch takes place in early 2012 when the winning American bartender will spend twoweeks at the famed London bar 69 Colebrooke Row, while the winning British barkeep will get to spend hisor her two weeks at a well known bar in New York City. 69 Colebrooke Row is home to the Drinks Factory,one of the only bar-related drinks labs in the world. There they will become incorporated into the daily barprocedures as well as visiting producers and sourcing quality ingredients. In NYC, the UK bartender willwork at one of the hottest cocktail bars in Gotham’s underground scene. We’re not revealing the name ofthe bar just yet, but with no menus here, bartenders cook up individually prescribed concoctions accordingto their customer’s mood. Here the presentation of the cocktail is as dramatic as the cocktail itself. Thewinner will be part of both a theater of performance and a chemistry lab at the same time. And yes, therewill also be some time for sightseeing as well.

“As Auchentoshan Three Wood continues to grow in popularity with bartenders, it’s great to be able togive something back to this community,” says Hannah Fisher, brand manager for Auchentoshan. “Thisonce in a lifetime experience is a first and we’re excited to see the results and proud to be working with twoof the best bars in the world.”For more information, terms and conditions and to enter Auchentoshan Switch, please visit May the videotaping begin!

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