The Iron Shaker: NJ's Craftiest Bartender

by Melody Kettle in


Judging the northern playoff at Waterside in North Bergen.  With fellow judge, Dominick Rizzo. 

I get all the worst gigs!   Press dinners, wine events, food festivals, and the absolute worst task I've ever been asked -  judge The Iron Shaker cocktail competition.  (Read: I love my job! :)

 The southern semi-finals at Porta in Asbury Park

The southern semi-finals at Porta in Asbury Park

The Iron Shaker Competition, presented by R&R Marketing  and NJ Monthly, is a series of three competitions that join the most talented bartenders from around the state.  The crafty mixologists go head to head in series of four challenges: Class Up Your L.I.T., Get Brown and Dirty, Fizzy Lifting Drink, and Go Buck Wild.  Judging is based on three categories, appearance, taste and level of difficulty/creativity.  

The southern semifinals were held on September 19th at Porta in Asbury Park and featured eight bartenders, four of which were put through to the finals. If you're doing the quick math, that's a total of thirty-two cocktails for attendees and judges to taste.   The northern semifinals were held on September 23rd at  Waterside in North Bergen, six bartenders competed - twenty-four cocktails-  and four bartenders were also put through. 

The Iron Shaker Finals will take place on October 17th, and will feature the top four from the south and the top four from the north shaking it up at Park East, the restaurant of my fellow judge, Dominick Rizzo.  The finalists will be:

 Christopher James toasting cinnamon at the northern semi-finals at Waterside in North Bergen. 

Christopher James toasting cinnamon at the northern semi-finals at Waterside in North Bergen. 

Chris James from The Ryland Inn,

Katherine Urban & Jennifer Ortiz from Patria,

John Jansma from Restaurant Serenade,

Matt Brown from The Orange Squirrel and Pig & Prince,

Beau Keegan from Ama, 

Chris Assay from Driftwood Cabana Club, 

Craig Stewart from Porta, and 

Lenny Schafer from the Atlantic City Bottling Company. 

The winner of The Iron Shaker will receive $1000 Amex Gift Card, 1.5L bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial, The Iron Shaker trophy, and a special feature within a 4-page article in the December issue of NJ Monthly.

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To purchase tickets for the  Iron Shaker Final,  please call the location:

The Iron Shaker FINALS
October 17th, 2013

Park East, Hazlet

(732) 739-2002

Tickets are $25 each and includes appetizers and cocktails.

Keep up with the competition on The Iron Shaker's Facebook page.