The Switch is on, Portland Shakes Outdoors, and "Tales" Returns to Vancouver

The Auchentoshan Switch competition has reached the final stage: The two winners in the United States will work for two weeks at DistilleryLondon’s 69 Colebrooke Row. Bartenders were asked to enter by submitting a video of themselves creating a lemonade and an Old Fashioned cocktail with Auchentoshan Three Wood. The finalists will compete in Las Vegas on Oct. 26 (a similar London competition will send two U.K. bartenders to New York). Finalists are: Jeff Bell from PDT, New York City; Amber Berry from Ward III, New York City; Gina Chersevani from PS 7’s, Washington, D.C.; David Curiel from Dalva Hideout, San Francisco; Michael Flannery from Michaels, New York City; Abigail Gullo from The Beagle, New York City; Dev Johnson from Employees Only, New York City; Charles Joly from The Drawing Room, Chicago; Mirjana “Mindy” Kucan from Grand Prize Bar, Houston; Jason Littrell from Death & Co, New York City; Ian McCarthy from Boiler Room, Omaha; Alexandra Parks from Green Russell, Denver; Zachary Safron from Metro, Lafayette; Steve Schneider from Employees Only, New York City; Rachel Sergei from The Jack Rose, Washington, D.C.; David Shenaut from Kask/Rum Club, Portland; Ezra Star from Drink, Boston; Lucinda Sterline from Little Branch, New York City; Clinton Terry from PX, Alexandria; and Jenn Tosatto from Manifesto, Kansas City. Find the video compilation of U.S. finalists here.

The Great American Distillers Festival returns to Portland, Ore., for its seventh annual convention Oct. 22-23. The festival will feature moreGAD Banner than 50 craft spirits by notable distilleries such as Rogue Spirits, Dry Fly, New Deal, Tuthilltown, Ransom Spirits and Bull Run Distilling Company. Notably, Oct. 22 events include the preliminary round of the 5th Annual Mixology Competition hosted by the Oregon Bar Guild, matching 16 bartenders with a craft spirit featured at the festival. In the finals, the top four contenders each will receive a mystery ingredient to mix in. Winner takes home $1,000. Proceeds from the Great American Distillers Festival go directly to the Oregon Bartenders Guild and the Oregon Distillers Guild. 

Part of the run up to Portland Cocktail Week, the Oregon Bartender’s Guild has launched Hospitality Suite, Portland’s first cocktail cart, at the city’s food truck Cartopia. Led by guild President Dave Shenaut, Vice President Brandon Wise and Lindsey Johnson of Lush Life Productions, the cart will be serving signature drinks until Oct. 23. Approval from local authorities for the cart is temporary, but guild members hope to make the concept last. Take a look here.

As long as we’re checking out the Pacific Northwest, news arrives that Vessel in Seattle hopes to reopen soon. Construction at the new location is under way, and co-owners Jim Romdall and Clark Niemeyer plan to re-open before year's end with a slightly larger space for an expanded kitchen.

In other opening news in the West, former New York bartender Erin Williams has landed at Saltbar in San Diego, the lower level lounge of Saltbox Dining & Drinking in the newly purchased Kimpton hotel, Palomar San Diego. Part of the "gastro-lounge" restaurant led by Chef Simon Dolinky, she’s created the menu for the newly opened spot, which you can find here

Tales of the Cocktail is taking its show on the road once again for Tales of the Cocktail on Tour – Vancouver in February for three days of seminars, tastings, special events and more, including a Canadian punch competition. To create a punch cocktail that can be used as the official cocktail at this year’s event, entrants are asked to come up with a recipe with using infusions, ingredients easy to find and indigenous or native to and representing Canada. For details and entry requirements and form, click here

Here’s an opening gimmick that offers promise: In New York City, The Elevens — a Prohibition-style speakeasy yet to open — offered a “seatholder" share to anyone who comes up with $500. Those who do will be entitled to benefits including 25% off bills for life, the exclusive ability to make a reservation, invitations to off-site private parties and more. Dale DeGroff has been enlisted to design the cocktail menu, and opening is set for spring 2012.

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