OUT caught up with Toby Lefort from Bourbon Pub/Parade - the recently named New Orleans Champion in the 5th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic - fresh off his win. The Cocktail Classic is Stoli’s annual competition recognizing North America’s brightest Bar Stars. LGBT bartenders and allies across the U.S. and Canada compete to represent their home city during the Key West Pride Week Finale, June 5-11th, 2018. Here's what Toby had to say about the competition.
OUT: Congrats on being named the New Orleans Champion in the 2018 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel to win in the 5th Annual Competition in your hometown?
Toby Lefort: I am very excited to be able to represent New Orleans in this competition. I really love the competition because of the communities it supports.
You were truly #RaisingTheBar with a super creative cocktail, “Purple Raspberry Rose Lemonade”. Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
The Purple Raspberry Rose Lemonade is a Raspberry Lemonade which was inspired by 2 of the people in my life that has inspired me to raise the bar, which is Princess Dianna and Sir Elton John.
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 really enjoy being a bartender because I love being able to spend time with people hearing about their accomplishments in life. It is also about being there for them at times when they need a shoulder to lean on.
As you know, part of your prize for winning the New Orleans competition is an all-expense-paid trip to Key West, FL this June. Have you ever been to Key West before? What are you most looking forward to as part of this trip?
I have never been to Key West, but it's always been a place I have wanted to visit. I am really looking forward to visiting all the area, but most of all The Bourbon Street Pub and 801 Bourbon Bar, because I work at The Bourbon Pub and Parade in New Orleans.
And if you take home the title, you’ll be named Grand Marshall of the Key West Pride Parade. Have you ever been the Grand Marshall of a parade before?
I have been Grand Marshall of Gay Pride in New Orleans twice, and also been Grand Marshall of Southern Decadence.
What importance have Pride celebrations had on your life?
I really like Pride celebrations because they allow us to celebrate the milestones that the older generations have paved the way for us.
In Key West, you’ll be competing for a chance to win a portion of $20,000 for your hand-picked charity, NO/AIDS Task Force. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?
I have been helping this organization for the last 20+ years in memory of my best friend, Travis. This organization does tremendous work to help people in the New Orleans area. Over the years I have raised right over $475,000, and have set a personal goal to raise $1 million before I die.
Is there anything you want to say to your competitors as you head into the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finale - June 5th - 11th in Key West, FL?
Congratulations to each and every one of you! I am honored to be with a group of people who are the best of the best, and also people who support their local communities.
Amazing. Well we can’t wait to see what innovative cocktails you stir up this June. Good luck, and know that all of New Orleans will be rooting for you to keep #RaisingTheBar!
To keep up with Toby and the rest of the action in the 4th Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, visit OUT.com/KeyWestCocktailClassic.