OUT caught up with Roger Moreno - the recently crowned Miami 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 Roger had to say about the competition.
OUT: Roger, congrats on being named the Miami Champion in the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel?
Roger Moreno: It feels amazing to be recognized by my community and peers.
You were able to get an edge up on the rest of your Miami competitors with a super creative cocktail, “Cayo Hueso Vacation”. Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
I've thought about this drink for a while. Cayo Hueso is the original name of Key West, which literally translates to "Bone Island", hence all the pirate stories. Plus, adding a "Vacation" would be ideal... But my secret was using a Cuban favorite fruit, which is Guayaba (A.K.A. Guava, for my gringo friends). Of course, since this is a Key West event, I have to be very proud of my Cuban heritage. Key West was the port of entry for many Cubans, and is 90 miles away. Another element I added was my music and costume because I wanted to be in that vacation spirit by using "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys.
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.
As a proud mixologist at Score Nightclub, I play the big brother and little brother to many of my customers. I provide the safety of love with all my cocktails and am a safeguard of you enjoying your queerness in a club. I'm a very proud gay man and I'm proud of who I am. And, I'm proud of whatever you want to be.
As you know, part of your prize for winning the Miami competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before?
Of course like over 100 times... Key West is literally like an hour away from me.
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?
I've never been a Grand Marshall, but I am excited to do it. And yes, I know I will be fierce.
And in Key West, you’ll be competing for a chance to win $2,500 to $7,500 for your hand-picked charity, St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Key West. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?
The reason I picked this organization is because it is the national philanthropy partner of my Frat called Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity Inc. We are the world's largest fraternity, and the founder of St. Jude was a proud brother. The children he has helped are the future in our world, and they need our help.
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?
In the words of RuPaul, "You betta work!", because I'm ready to show you what Miami has to offer. I am your Cuban Sazon that has many flavors and spice in the competition
Amazing. Well we can’t wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of Miami will be rooting for you!
To keep up with Juan and the rest of the action in the 4th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, visit OUT.com/KeyWestCocktailClassic.