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A Chat With Chicago Speed Rack Winner Jacyara De Oliveira Of Sportsman's Club

By Melissa McEwen in Food on May 5, 2015 7:50PM

(Image courtesy of Speed Rack's Facebook)

This year's Chicago Speed Rack winner has been in the competition since the beginning and after four years finally made it to the top. Jacyara De Oliveira of Sportsman's Club (948 N. Western Ave.) will go on to the finals in this competition between fast and skilled female bartenders.

Speed Rack is a competition of speed and accuracy. There is an initial speed trial round with 22 competitors and the fastest make it to the judged round where the four judges can add time for flaws like cocktails being too sweet. The judges this year were Bridget Lorenc-Albert (Director of Mixology, Southern Wine & Spirits Helen David Foundation), Tad Carducci (co-Founder, Tippling Bros), John Manion (Chef and owner of La Sirena Clandestina) and Paul McGee (owner and head bartender at Lost Lake).

Last year De Oliveira made it into the finals but she was beaten out by Liz Pearce. "The competition can be really nerve wrecking - that I'd done it before helps," De Oliveira told Chicagoist. The other finalists this year were Erin Hayes (Lost Lake), Liz Pearce (The Drifter), Mony Bunni (Sable), Laura Kelton (Bordel), Julia Momose (The Aviary), Emmie O'Connor (Malibu Grill in Bloomington, Indiana) and Jessica Lambert (The Dawson).

De Oliveira believes it's one of the few competitions where your success is tightly correlated with your real world career. "Sportsman's Club is high volume so I have a lot of experience. Speed Rack really measures your bartending ability- to make good drinks and to handle stress."

The competition also showcases the fact that Chicago has a ton of really skilled female bartenders. "The lineup was impressive. I'd be happy to have any of them behind the bar," says De Oliveira. "Everyone loves to watch it because we ladies are good at what we do. We are engaging and make good drinks fast. It's a platform to showcase that talent."

It also serves as a way to bring the bartending community together. "It supports breast cancer charities. It's competitive but it brings people together in a warm and happy energy. It's also one of the best parties of the year."

We wish De Oliveira good luck at the nationals, which will be held in New York City on June 14.

You can vote for the wild card entry who will also go to the finals.