Willa VanNostrand Wins Rhode Island Cocktail Contest

by David Dadekian

Providence Cocktail WeekThe finals for the Rhode Island Cocktail Contest were held at Local 121 tonight and the winner is Willa VanNostrand, bartender at the E & O Tap in Providence. VanNostrand’s winning cocktail, “The Benefit Dram,” is a perfect balance of liquor and fresh ingredients and will be served at RISD Museum of Art during their Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion 1920–1980 exhibitions, at the Museum’s Cocktail Culture Members Opening Party on April 14 and at an event at Cook & Brown Public House on Friday, April 15. In addition, VanNostrand receives a $1,000 prize.

A mix of rum, fresh lime juice, native RI honey, Carpano Antica and Peychaud Bitters, “The Benefit Dram” competed against nine other cocktails during a semi-final round last Monday at Waterman Grille which was judged by myself, David Mangiantine of La Laiterie and Susan Yund of Grad Center Bar at Brown, along with a popular ballot. Five of the ten cocktails made the finals at Local 121 and were judged by cocktail consultant Chris Amirault, Edible Rhody Publisher John Schenck, Nick’s on Broadway Chef/Owner Derek Wagner and a popular ballot. The contest was run by Bottles manager Eric Taylor.

After VanNostrand was announced as the winner of the Cocktail Contest she took to the microphone. “Thank you family, family, family, that’s all I have to say!” She acknowledged people in the crowd who taught her how to tend bar. “To local bees and local farmers . . . and booze. Thank you everybody for coming. This is really wonderful and fun.”

Kristen O’Connell of the Lighthouse Bar at Twin River Casino was the runner-up with her cocktail “The Blue Violet.” Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion 1920–1980 opens at the RISD Museum of Art on Friday, April 15. You can buy tickets online now for the Cook & Brown Public House event.


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