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Meet Chris Padilla: The Dayton Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic 2017 Champion

Chris Padilla Winning - Dayton Ohio

See the inspiring journey behind this Ohio Bar Star's climb to the top. 

OUT caught up with Chris Padilla - the recently crowned Dayton Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic - fresh off his win. The Cocktail Classic is Stoli's annual competition to find North America's Number One Bartender. LGBTQ bartenders and allies across the U.S. and Canada will compete to represent their home city on the grand stage of cocktail mixology during Pride Week, June 7-11th, in Key West, Florida. Here's what Chris had to say about the competition.

OUT: Chris, congrats on being named the Dayton Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?

Chris Padilla: Feels amazing, I'm completely suprised and excited. My competitors were awesome, which made the experience very fun and less stressful.

You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your Dayton competitors with a super creative cocktail, "Razberi Smash". Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?

I wanted to make a cocktail with regular Stoli, and infuse my own flavors into the vodka. When I was thinging about how I was going to create my concoction, I was thinking of Key West, but I have never been. So when I think Key West, I think Tropical Paradise: flowers, fruit, and beaches. Something delicious and refreashing. So, I used St. Germain, an Elderflower Liqueur, and raspberry flavors to come up up with a Razberi Smash.


The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic honors the unique legacy of gay bars as original safe spaces and community centers and the role our bartenders have played as hosts and caretakers throughout history. Tell us about what your role as a nightlife professional means to you.

I have been working in the gay community in Columbus Ohio for abour 20 years now. 9 of those years have been at A.W.O.L., where I have meet so many amazing people who I can call dear friends. I also love being able to make someone smile, especially if they are having a bad day. Their smile makes me smile, and I smile a lot...

As you know, part of your prize for winning the Dayton competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?

No I have not, but have friends that have, and it sounds amazing. I am excited to see the beautiful place.

And if you take home the title, you'll be included as the Grand Marshall of the Key West Pride Parade. Have you ever been the Grand Marshall of a parade before?

No, but I would be honored to represent not only Stoli, but Ohio, in Key West.

And in Key West, you'll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, Hope 62. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?

Hope 62 is a non-profit organization helping people with cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage-4 cancer in 2014. Kristy is the founder and was there for me when I was going through a tough time in my life. I am very thankful for her, and now its my turn to return the favor to others. I have been cancer free for two years now, and thankful to friends and family who have helped me along the way.

Any advice (or trash talk!) for your competitors as you head into the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finale - June 7th - 12th in Key West, FL?

I wish everyone the best of luck, and will be excited to meet everyone. Be prepared to get Razberi Smashed... LOL.

Amazing. Well we can't wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of Dayton will be rooting for you!

To keep up with Chris and the rest of the action in the 4th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, visit

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