Devour Phoenix Brings Battling Bartenders, Local Craft Spirits to Crescent Ballroom on February 9

Get ready to sip and sample cocktails from up-and-coming bartenders in the Phoenix scene this February. That's right, the fifth annual Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition is back at Crescent Ballroom this year, and along with tasty samples and three live acoustic sets, the event will showcase local spirits courtesy of Arizona Distilling Co. The list of "star-tenders" is out for this year and we have some predictions for who might win.

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Devour Phoenix tends to assemble the heavyweights of the food world for the Devoured Culinary Classic every year, but the bartending competition is often a proving ground for mixologists before they become big names. In it's second year, Citizen Public House's Richie Moe and Last Drop Bar's Travis Nass went head to head. Last year, despite entrants from more upscale mixology bars like St. Francis and Hula's Modern Tiki, dive bartender Kyle Landry took top honors for Shady's Fine Ales and Cocktails.

Our money is on Clever Koi's Joshua James this year; his cocktail program at the brand new CenPho hot spot already has created a healthy buzz. If he brings his cocktail game like he does there, we're sure he'll take it no problem. But past years have proved it's really anyone's game and even the brightest "star-tenders" can falter. Other competitors include:

Jax Gonzales of Phoenix Public Market Café Michael Allmandinger of The Parlor Manny Pena of Windsor Evan Gibbs of Maizie's Café Ryan Richardson of Kazimierz World Wine Bar Matt Tobey of District American Kitchen

If this competition doesn't excite you, the star ingredient should. Arizona Distilling Co.'s Copper City Bourbon, along with its brand-new, just-released gin, will be the liquor of choice for the afternoon, making the event a truly local affair. While we'll give you more information about the gin on Chow Bella soon, let's just say we've tried it and it's a home run.

This year's Devour Phoenix Bartending Competition takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 9, at Crescent Ballroom. Twenty dollars gets you in to watch both the heated cocktail dueling and live music, along with a sample of all seven craft cocktail samples prepared by the "star-tenders." Since each attendee gets a sample, admission is limited to 400 people, so get your tickets online, along with more information, on the Crescent Ballroom website.

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