Food & dining

Women bartenders compete for a cause at Speed Rack

Nicole Lebedevitch in the Boston Speedrack event in 2012. She will represent Yvonne’s in this year’s competition.
Speed Rack/file 2012
Nicole Lebedevitch in the Boston Speedrack event in 2012. She will represent Yvonne’s in this year’s competition.

Racing against the clock while furiously shaking a cocktail in each hand, nearly two dozen regional bartenders will square off at this weekend’s Speed Rack New England, an all-women speed-bartending competition.

In front of a live audience and a panel of judges at the nightclub Royale on Sunday, 22 mixologists, most of them from Boston, will compete in timed heats to see who can make classic cocktails fastest and most accurately. Proceeds will go to breast cancer charities, and tickets are $25, or $20 in advance at www.ticketfly.com. (And no, attendees don’t get to drink the cocktails.)

“I had this idea that I wanted to do something for ladies while making fun of the fact that we’re poorly represented in cocktail bars,” says Ivy Mix, a Vermont native who cofounded Speed Rack in New York in 2011 with fellow bartender Lynnette Marrero. Five years on, the event has raised more than $350,000 for research and education.

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Speed Rack holds competitions across the country, with the winner from each city advancing to the national finals in New York in May. Contenders for the New England stop come from revered watering holes such as Backbar, Trina’s Starlite Lounge, the Hawthorne, Rialto, Yvonne’s, and Franklin Cafe, among others. Out-of-state contestants will be representing bars in Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

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Judges include local cocktail mavens Misty Kalkofen and Brother Cleve, Boston-based writer Luke O’Neil, and Camille Vidal, better known as St. Germain’s global ambassador, Madame St. Germain. Chris Patino, director of brand advocacy for Pernod Ricard, will serve as the emcee.

“The nice thing about Boston is that it’s never been a pretentious drinking city,” says Mix. “Boston’s just like, ‘We’re going to make great cocktails and have everybody drink them.’ ”

James Reed can be reached at jreedwrites@gmail.com.