Fastest female bartender contest raises money for breast cancer

Jenny Adams

Alcohol and women haven't always gotten along so well. In the early days of America's founding, women were commonly banned from bars, and it was widely considered impolite for them to imbibe in public.

Remember that Women's Christian Temperance Movement? Yeah, they brought about Prohibition in 1919 and that unbelievably annoying law stuck around until winter of '33.

So, it's safe to say that the female, professional bartender has not always been a woman celebrated. For hundreds of years, it was a man's world.

Not anymore.

Women have been respected members of the bar and spirits industry for decades, but this year celebrates that fact like no other before it with the return of Speed Rack—an all-female, fastest-bartender competition that travels, hosting regionals in 11 cities around the United States. The mission is to raise money for breast cancer research while celebrating females who make a living slinging great drinks.

Speed Rack raised $69,000 for breast cancer research last year, and one lucky winner was awarded a scholarship to study her craft and wicked bragging rights.

"It was the first nationwide competition designed to highlight up-and-coming women in the spirits industry," explains Ivy Mix, co-founder and a bartender currently on staff at Clover Club in Brooklyn, NY. "Speed Rack's aim is to build a stronger sense of community while giving back to those impacted by breast cancer," she continues. "We tap the top female bartenders in key cocktail markets and put them head-to-head in timed challenges."

Mix's efforts are backed by the New York City Chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), a national organization that promotes bringing back classic, forgotten cocktails into mainstream consciousness.

What should you expect to find at these events? Plenty of delicious cocktails and a scene that's somewhat like a Roller Derby smack down—only the skates are replaced with shakers, the verbal abuse pertains to someone's weak Gin Fizz and the judges are the biggest names in booze globally. It turns out, watching someone make a Negroni in under 30 seconds … while simultaneously shaking a Daiquiri and wearing fishnets … is epic fun.

Here's where you can attend a Speed Rack event this year:

December 10, 2012
New York City @ Santos Party House

January 13, 2013
St. Louis @ 2720 Cherokee Gallery

January 21, 2013
San Antonio @ The St. Anthony Hotel

February 2, 2013
Seattle @ The Century Ballroom

February 24, 2013
San Francisco @ a TBD venue

March 3, 2013
San Diego @ a TBD venue

March 31, 2013
Chicago @ a TBD venue

For more information, visit