OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.— Thomas Upshaw from McClintock Saloon and Chop House claimed the title Cocktail Shakedown Champion for a second time by creating an outstanding cocktail using the final championship mystery ingredient: Screwball Peanut Butter Whiskey. This was the seventh annual Oklahoma Restaurant Association Cocktail Shakedown at the ORA Expo on August 18, 2021.
Upshaw was one of several bartenders scoring the highest number of total points in the first and second rounds of the competition, qualifying them to advance and compete in the Championship Round.
Upshaw grooved to the music’s beat while preparing his final concoction in the Championship Round which earned him a $1,000 cash prize, the Grand Champion belt, and a feature in the upcoming quarterly ORA magazine. Marc Adrian Estuche of the Holloway Restaurant Group also showed his creative talents throughout the day, eventually claiming second place and walking away with a $500 cash prize. Additionally, each competitor received a gift basket full of competition swag provided by Republic National Distributing Co., Anheuser-Busch of Oklahoma and CFS Brands.
“The amazing bartenders who compete always bring personality and creativity to the competition,” said Patti Colley, ORA Chief Strategy Officer. “The Cocktail Shakedown continues to be a fan favorite and opens the ORA Expo with excitement.”
Upshaw and Estuche competed against 6 other Oklahoma bartenders from ORA member restaurants. Each bartender was judged on taste and balance, originality, and drink and stage presentation while utilizing spirits presented by Republic National Distributing Co. Other competing bartenders included Garrett Blevins with Dallas Cowboys Bar and Grill at WinStar World Casino; April Carter with Pepperoni Grill; Garrett Ennis with Scratch Kitchen and Cocktails Paseo; Ryan Goodman with Rococo; Michael O’Hara with Milo at The Ellison Hotel and Ivan Pena with The Manhattan.
The esteemed judges consisted of industry professionals Jeffrey Cole, WanderFolk Spirits; J Mays, Cafe 7 & The Hamilton; Leith Ezell, Traditions Spirits and Jason Ewald with A Good Egg Dining Group.
“We have great partners throughout this event which wouldn’t be possible without their contributions,” said Marcus Tilley Cocktail Shakedown emcee and Chief Operating Officer of Traditions Spirits. “Republic National Distributing is a huge partner and we’ll use their products in every round. We’ve always had great partners and we couldn’t do this event without them.”
The Cocktail Shakedown was presented in partnership with Platinum Partners Coca-Cola, Oklahoma City Convention Visitors Bureau, Republic National Distributing Company, and Traditions Spirits; Gold Partners: CFS Brands, GoFresh Produce, Heartland, McGregor Insurance Group, Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation, and Superior Linen Service; Heat Partners: Russian Standard Vodka, Whistlepig Piggyback Rye Whiskey, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, Disarronno Velvet, Bumbu Original Rum, Cooper’s Craft Bourbon, Monkey’s 47 Gin, Maestro Dobel Diamante Tequila; Championship Heat Partner: Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey.
Founded in 1933, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association is the trade association of restaurants and foodservice operations, the state's largest private industry employer. Representing more than 4,000 restaurants and members, the ORA actively monitors legislation and regulatory agencies; helps foodservice management develop and strengthen business; and develops the membership to do together for the industry what cannot be done individually.