OUT caught up with Jon Tantype from Revolver Bar WeHo - the recently named Los Angeles 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 Jon had to say about the competition.
OUT: Congrats on being named the Los Angeles Champion in the 2018 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic! How does it feel to win in the 5th Annual Competition in your hometown?
Jon Tantype: It's pretty awesome to be able to represent Los Angeles! I had so much fun creating my signature cocktail and concept that I forgot it was a competition.
You were truly #RaisingTheBar with a super creative cocktail, "Black Panther". Can you tell us a little bit about the drink, and your inspiration behind it?
The Black Panther consists of Stoli Blueberi that is infused with cucumber, basil, lychee, and a splash of champagne. There's a secret ingredient that gives the cocktail its all-black look. And of course, the topper of gold flakes that gives it an extra shimmer. I was was inspired by the movie Black Panther. I wanted to create something that took you on a journey through taste, aroma and sight. The aroma of the cocktail is slightly different than the taste. And the taste can be unexpected because of the dark black look of the drink.
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 definitely feel that as bartenders we are an integral part of the community. Many of our customers end up being our real friends. At Revolver we are lucky to have such a family dynamic and I think that carries out through our service. People just feel at home when they come to our bar.
As you know, part of your prize for winning the LA 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've never been to Key West and I am beyond thrilled! I LOVE to eat and I keep hearing about all of the amazing seafood! I've never had conch before, so I'm really excited to give that a go. Also, the beaches look beautiful, I can't wait to experience in person.
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've never been the Grand Marshal of a parade before. That would be an incredible honor to represent such a fun display in that way.
What importance have Pride celebrations had on your life?
Pride is always such a fun time of people of all sexes, ages, races, sexualities coming together and celebrating LOVE and diversity. It has always been my favorite time of year because we just all come together and have fun. It's a time we can put away all of the distractions and remember that no matter how different we all may seem, there are is so much that unites us.
In Key West, you'll be competing for a chance to win a portion of $20,000 for your hand-picked charity, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Anything you want to mention on your relationship to that organization, or why you picked it to represent?
I chose this organization because of the outreach it does for LGBT homeless and youth in-need. They aid in everything from housing, to education, clothing, daily meals, STD screening, counseling. The list goes on and on. So many lives have been saved by this organization. It's truly incredible how they have transformed the lives of people and really helped the community tackle issue of homelessness.
Is there anything you want to say to your competitors as you head into the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Finale - June 5th - 12th in Key West, FL?
Yes, Wakanda FOREVER!! I just want to say I am so excited to meet everyone, try everyone's cocktails, and get to know them over the week. I know its going to be such a fun time and we will make some great memories!