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Mississippi Bartenders Battle Mixology Reputations at the Iron Bartender Contest

Jake Loyer participating in Oxford’s Iron Bartender Contest in 2017 where he took 2nd place for Jinsei Sushi. Photo courtesy of Jinsei Sushi Oxford.

Shake, swirl and strain. These are the steps most bartenders live by in the restaurant industry. Now, bartenders from across north Mississippi will put these steps to the test at this year’s Iron Bartender contest on Thursday, Aug. 9, at The Powerhouse from 7-9 p.m. The contest is the kickstarter for the Art-er Limits Fringe Fest—an annual 3-day long festival organized by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
The competition challenges bartenders to create a cocktail once their “secret spirit” is revealed. 
Returning champions from Snackbar and McEwen’s will face challengers from restaurants in Tupelo, Oxford and Starkville including Jinsei, Nautical Whimsey, Saint Leo, Stella, Green Roof Lounge, Grit, Oxford Grillhouse, Woody’s and O’Charley’s in Tupelo, and Restaurant Tyler in Starkville.
Mississippi distiller Cathead Vodka helped establish the contest as part of the weekend of events that celebrates Mississippi music and art. They have partnered with Kirk & Sweeney, Uncle Val’s, Hendricks, Jose, High West, Clyde Mays, Macallan, and Cooper and Thief, ensuring bartender and tasters have a full cocktail experience.
At the event attendees will be able to vote for their favorite cocktail, meet the bartenders and socialize.
“This event reminds us that expressions of creativity and artistry take many shapes and forms,” said Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. “The cocktail mixes history, region, culinary and culture all in a glass. It also has the unique attribute of bringing people together.”
Other featured events this year include the return of the Secret Show on Friday, theatre performances on Saturday, and the Food Truck Fight on Sunday. For more information, tickets, or a complete schedule of all 40 events, visit www.oxfordfringefest.com.
The festival is made possible by funding from Cathead Vodka, Mississippi Arts Commission, Visit Mississippi and SouthArts.


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