Jan. 27 2010 12:00 AM

Cocktail Wars: It’s a marathon mix-a-rama

Have a favorite Lansing bartender? Someone who makes your favorite drink that can’t be copied? They’ll be put to the test at the first Cocktail Wars, a head-tohead match-up featuring a collection of 32 Lansing area bartenders from 12 different bars.

Cocktail Wars is a bracket-style bartender competition sponsored by City Pulse. The first round was held Jan. 24, and the finale, in which the grand prizewinner will be selected, will be Feb. 28. The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Las Vegas for the Nightclub and Bar show in March, among other prizes.

“We’re just saying thank you to our customers,” said Mike Haddad, co-owner of Banzai Energy Drink, the competition’s title sponsor. The competition will judge each bartender on taste, style, pour and presentation, and each bartender will be creating a drink that includes Banzai.

Bartenders will be eliminated from the competition with each new round. There will be a consolation bracket for those who are eliminated in the first round, and the winner of that round will go to the final round on Feb. 28.

The top two bartenders of the main bracket will also compete in the final round, along with the winner of a survey on City Pulse’s Web site, and four randomly selected bartenders eliminated in earlier rounds.

First-round winners in last Sunday’s faceoff were: Jessica Vazquez of The Chrone Cat; Trisha "The Disha" of Uli’s House of Rock; Michelle Ireland of Colonial Bar and Grill; Jon Shunk of Reidy’s White Rose; Ashley Rajala of Draft House; Jeff Iansanti of Tripper’s Sports Bar; Janel Paksi of Ryan’s Roadhouse; Curry Lund of Rum Runners; Whitney Lentz of Tripper’s Sports Bar; Kate Cedar of Uli’s House of Rock; Jonna David of Colonial Bar and Grill; Angella Szynkowski of Rum Runners; Crystal Barnum of Draft House; Melissa "Inky" Kim of The Chrome Cat; Rebecca Yoder of Coach’s Pub and Grill; and Randee Irrer of Ryan’s Roadhouse.

The second round of competitions will be held at four bars on Sunday, Jan. 31. At 4:30 p.m, Brannigan Brothers, 210 Washington Square, and Uli’s, 4519 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., will be hosting four bartenders each, and at 7:30, Tripper’s Sports Bar in Frandor and Colonial Bar and Grill, 3425 S. Martin Luther King, will each have a quartet of competitors. Other bars participating in Cocktail Wars include Corner Bar, Lee’s Outpost, Coach’s Pub and Grill and Draft House.