Have you ever imagined what your dream cocktail tastes like and been thirsty for a bit of healthy competition? Do you want to join a community of national LGBTQ+ libation leaders who proudly serve drinks for a cause? Do you believe that LGBTQ+ bars and the people who serve pride in them every day are honoring the legacy of gay bars as the original safe spaces for our community?
If your answer is yes, then get into the mix and go for gold with the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, back and brighter-than-ever in its 7th year, with coverage coming to you around the clock presented by the team at Out. The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic is a nationwide competition and touring event series in which the most innovative bar stars from the local bars you love compete to see who can make the most delicious, most surprising, most medal-worthy signature Stoli cocktail. And with the 2020 competition, Stoli is not only serving pride by recognizing the bartenders who dedicate their lives to creating safe spaces for us to gather, but they are giving back to non-profit organizations who are doing work to benefit us all! As of 2020, Stoli will have awarded $120,000 to LGBTQ+ supportive non-profits across North America through the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic.
The tour starts with qualifying events from March to May in thirteen regional cities, where a line-up of seasoned local bartenders will battle it out with every stir, squeeze, and shake. Each event has a panel of gag-worthy performances, judges, and hosts including Real Housewives of Dallas star LeeAnne Locken and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Jai Rodriguez, who will determine a local winner from each city.
For the 2020 competition, the category is: the Olympics! Or rather―the “Stolimpics”! Building upon Stoli’s decades-long legacy of award-winning support for the LGBTQ+ community, this year’s tour strives to discover its very own class of “Stolimpians”. Each competing “Stolimpian” will be tasked with presenting a theme for their cocktail and stage presentation that celebrates any person, place, or thing worthy of an Olympic-calibre medal. And we don’t just mean from the world of athletics. The “Stolimpics” theme can take up its own meaning for each bartender, whether they choose to honor a local LGBTQ+ advocate or an iconic hometown hero who paved the way for the next generation―the possibilities are endless!
Samuel Benedict, last year's winner from Club Cumming in NYC, turning up the heat with his signature creation.
But wait―it wouldn’t be a fierce competition without a little bit of a twist! Beginning in March, Out is unveiling a national Wild Card competition to spice things up. If you are an LGBTQ+ nightlife professional―and no, you don’t need to identify as L, G, B, T or Q to apply; we welcome and celebrate our straight allies, too!―who is not eligible to compete within one of the thirteen regional markets, you can apply to compete here and throw your hat in the ring! Three entrants from around the country will be selected as competitors in a Wild Card competition that will take place at the Stoli Global HQ in New York City (transportation and accommodations included!), to compete for your ticket to join the Local Champions from around the country to represent your city in the Finale Week.
At the end of the national tour, all thirteen Local Champions and the one Out.com Wild Card will fly down to Florida for two semi-final rounds and a Main Stage Finale in Key West, the historically queer island capital of leisure and relaxation. Think of Key West as the “Stolimpic Village” for this year’s competition. All prizing for the 2020 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic is presented by the Key West Business Guild, which serves as the foremost non-profit organization for promoting LGBTQ+ travel to and marketing for Key West. The KWBG has been a long-standing supporter of The Key West Cocktail Classic, providing resources and support for the island’s diverse events, companies, and organizations that serve the LGBTQ+ community. All prizing for the 2020 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic is presented courtesy of the Key West Business Guild.
The $5,000 second place charity award going to the Metropolitan Community Church of Key West, a proud queer institution promoting acceptance of all.
Before the bar ignites with the best of the best, the top thirteen “Stolimpians” will be paired with a local Key West charity, such as the Key West AIDS Memorial or Samuel’s House, in addition to choosing their hometown charity to represent in the finals. The winner will not only receive the coveted title of 2020 Stoli Key West North American Champion and serve as the Honorary Grand Marshall of the 2020 Key West Pride Parade―they will also receive $10,000 to design their own LGBTQ+ dream vacation anywhere in the world courtesy of HE Travel, $15,000 for their charity of choice, and a massive Hometown Victory Celebration with a check presentation ceremony. This year totals $30,000 given to charity including two grants of $5,000 given to second place, all in an effort to support the life-changing work of LGBTQ+ advocates, activists, and volunteers across the country.
Whether you want to pucker up for that punch or savor that smooth spritz, become a “Stolimpics” Stan and join the movement that does good while it tastes good. In this competition, we will not only be celebrating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folks: we will also be uplifting them with a delicious Stoli drink in hand. Get involved with your community, compete with your signature cocktail creation, and get ready to serve pride with Stoli. Stoli Serves Pride.
Welcome to the 7th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic: The “Stolimpics”!