NEW YORK, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Stoli® Group USA, LLC in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, is returning to New York to kick off the world's largest annual LGBTQ bartending competition, the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic. Now in its fourth year, the competition will feature more contestants, participating cities and charitable donations than ever before.
In addition to recognizing the talents of the industry's top LGBTQ bartenders, the Cocktail Classic celebrates the role that gay bars have played in the movement towards equality as original community centers. The competition will culminate in Key West, FL, a diverse and accepting city with a thriving LGBTQ community.
The Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic finale is generously being hosted and judged by actor and musician, Jai Rodriguez, and past as well as returning celebrity judges include president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk; writer and Emmy Award-winner, Bruce Vilanch; American Idol's Latoya London; fashion designer and nightlife personality Andrew Christian; and Key West's drag queen star, Sushi.
"Every year we look forward to bringing together the people, charities and business that make up our extraordinary LGBTQ community," said Patrik Gallineaux, Stoli's National LGBTQ Ambassador and Brand Manager. "While our mission is to recognize the most talented and innovative bartenders, community will always be at the heart of Cocktail Classic. It has been a privilege to support and grow together over the years."
A maximum of six LGBTQ trade staff and/or allies from 17 cities across North America will be selected to create an original cocktail using Stoli Vodka as their primary ingredient. A panel of judges and 100 eligible audience members will evaluate each cocktail based on taste, balance and presentation, as well as each bartender's authenticity, knowledge, and creativity in presentation and performance.
The finalist from each regional competition will win a six-day, all-inclusive trip to participate in a week of events and celebratory entertainment culminating in the grand finale during Key West Pride 2017. In addition to being named the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Champion, the winner of the final event will ride in the Key West Pride Parade as Honorary Grand Marshall and receive:
$12,500 grand prize for a pre-selected charity of his/her choice;
a victory celebration and charity check presentation at champion's home bar hosted by Stoli Vodka;
and an all-expense paid exclusive Stoli Vodka destination event
The first runner up to the 2017 Champion will also receive $2,500 for their chosen charity.
"Stoli's work through the Key West Cocktail Classic is an example of how companies can use their resources to make a difference both large and small," stated Matt Hon, Executive Director of the Key West Business Guild. "From the charitable monetary donations to general awareness, the Cocktail Classic has significantly impacted our local community by becoming a destination event for the city of Key West. In 2016, we saw tourism and revenue increase by 20-percent on the island during Pride!"
The 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Tour Schedule:
Last year's Champion, Rocky Collins from the Round-Up in Dallas proudly competed for DIFFA/Dallas and which raises funds for organizations that support education programs, treatment and direct care services for people living with or impacted by HIV and AIDS. Rocky also won a matching $5,000 donation to the Wesley House Family Services in Key West, an organization he represented on behalf of the Key West Business Guild. Rocky's winning cocktail and presentation best embodied the spirit of the Key West community and the heart of the competition. Named 'The Key West Kitty Kat,' Rocky's original Stoli cocktail is made with 2 oz. Stoli Vanil, 2 oz. coconut simple syrup, 1.5 oz. pineapple juice, 0.5 oz. key lime juice, coconut cream, grenadine, cinnamon and garnished with a pineapple slice and served over ice.
About Key West Business Guild The mission of the Key West Business Guild is to promote LGBTQ travel to Key West through marketing and the promotion of specialty events; to support gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses; to strengthen the Gay community's position within the local community by supporting relevant LGBTQ issues. The KWBG was founded in 1978 by 8 local gay business owners and has grown to approximately 400 members, which work together to continue efforts to brighten the rainbow over the island, an island now known as Gay Key West. Promotion of events, such as Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest, has made Key West a year-round LGBTQ travel destination. For more information visit www.kwbgonline.org.
About Stoli Group, USA Stoli Group USA, LLC is a U.S. importer and marketer of alcoholic beverages, headquartered in New York City. Stoli Group USA is a subsidiary of SPI Group based out of Luxemburg, one of the world's most dynamic wine and spirits organizations. Formed in 2013, Stoli Group USA's current portfolio of brands includes the Stolichnaya® brand of premium vodkas and Stoli Ginger Beer, ultra-premium elit®Vodka, Louisiana-distilled Bayou® Rum, artfully designed KAH® Tequila, Achaval-Ferrer™ from Argentina, and Arinzano wines of Spain.
Media Contact: Patrick Rizzuto Golin for Stoli Group, USA T. +1 212.373.6015 [email protected]