All photos by Victoria Sanders
Speed Rack does a ton of good. The events raise money ($850K+ so far!) to fight cancer. The surrounding orbit, like the Sisterhood Project, is an invaluable asset in empowering women in the craft cocktail world. Amidst all these positives, it’s easy to forget that there’s also a very serious competition. Last night (5.07), eight finalists threw down in Chicago after the second day of the Chicago Style conference. Kitty Corbo of LA’s The Study at Arts District Brewing Co. emerged victorious as Miss Speed Rack 2019.
Corbo was a wildcard—literally. She initially repped LA at the California regional in San Francisco last January, but finished as a runner-up. However, a strong popular vote landed her a Wildcard spot in the final round… and she took it from there.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better end to our eighth Speed Rack US competition season. Kitty demonstrated the true spirit of Speed Rack, coming into the National Finals as a Wildcard winner, working hard and supporting her fellow competitors along the way,” said Lynnette Marrero, Co-Founder of Speed Rack. “Congrats to the LA community who really rallied behind her and the SR alum who supported her journey. We can’t wait to see where this upcoming year as Miss Speed Rack will take her.”
Corbo clocked a time of two minutes and four seconds in the ultimate round of the head-to-head speed bartending competition. However, like most involved, she said the benefits transcended simply winning a contest.
“Hearing about Speed Rack for the first time years ago lit a fire under me to be an all around better bartender because I knew one day I wanted to compete in it. I feel like it encourages women to be better and learn more so that they can make waves in the industry,” Corbo told Neat Pour. Overall it brings women together that may never have crossed paths. I know I’ve created countless relationships with talented people across the country thanks to people introducing themselves to me because they saw me compete in Speed Rack. Doors that were once closed have opened for me, and my current path is a direct result of competing in Speed Rack.”
The festivities were hosted by Anne Louise Marquis (National Portfolio Brand Ambassador of Campari USA) and Robin Nance (Portfolio Trade Engagements Manager, Beam Suntory). Stephanie Izard (Executive Chef at Girl & the Goat), Robert Simonson (spirits writer, New York Times), Charles Joly (Co-Founder, Crafthouse Cocktails) and Kelsey Ramage (Co-Founder, Trash Tiki) judged the drinks.
The final judgement of the evening was a sense success. “We had over 1,000 applicants for this year’s Speed Rack season, which is such a testament to how the industry has changed since we started Speed Rack,” said co-founder Ivy Mix. “Not only are there more women behind the bar, but the community of each of these women coming together to support each other and help one another showcase their skills is something we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of.”