by Talia Kleinplatz | On Monday night over 300 spectators packed Republic Bar to watch 16 of BC’s most talented bartenders throw down in the no-holds-barred, winner takes all finale of Barate Kid. The annual event went on the road this year with 8 separate heats across Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria and saw over 60 bartenders compete for the $5,000 prize.
All 16 finalists brought their A-games to a competition that tested competitors on the most essential of bartending skills, namely speed, taste and showmanship. Organizers Gez McAlpine and Keenan Hood pulled out all the stops for the 4th anniversary of the much-loved cocktail competition, bringing in Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy of New York’s Attaboy to judge the finale. Vancouver barman and fellow Scout contributor Shaun Layton also sat on the panel. The trio were tasked with tasting over 100 cocktails to determine a winner.
Favourite rounds included a Keefer showdown between Danielle Tatarin (who flew in from Mexico for the event) and Naveen Toor, as well as an impromptu bonus round between organizers Hood and McAlpine. But the final faceoff came down to two former Diamond barmen – Thor Paulson (now of L’Abattoir) and Micky Valens (now of Wildebeest).
The two were tasked with making nine cocktails in eight minutes. Both left it all on the bar and the dead heat was only broken by Paulson’s speed who finished in 5 minutes and 47 seconds. He was crowned the 2015 Barate Kid Champ and showed what it truly means to be a winner when he announced that he would be donating half of the prize money to charity for Syrian refugees.
Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Talia Kleinplatz fell in love with food at the apron strings of her mother and grandmother whose kitchens wafted the intoxicating aromas of fresh dill, homemade pies and painstakingly slow-cooked brisket. She completed her degrees at Concordia and McGill, graduating with a Master’s in Social Work in 2009. Her six years in Montreal taught her to eat well but it was her move to Vancouver in 2011 that taught her to drink well. In 2013 she launched her award-winning cocktail blog, Two For The Bar. She lives in South Granville with her husband and her three-legged, curmudgeonly cat.