Sean Conner Hopes His Watermelon Crush Will Stomp the Competition
Not all bartenders are boozy, party after last-call types. Some are family men, like Sean Conner, the Whiskey Cake muddling and shaking engineer who is one six bartenders up for the National Restaurant Association's "Star of the Bar" mantle, part of the 2011 International Wine, Spirit & Beer Event to be held in Chicago, on May 22. (Apparently, this is the season for bartender competitions. See the post below.)
Jose Ralat Maldanado Sean Conner shakes his way to Chicago.
The drink that got 30-year-old Conner to the big show is the Watermelon Crush, a watermelon-English cucumber concoction mixed with Bacardi Superior and house-made simple syrup. The drink, meant to be enjoyed on the porch of Whiskey Cake in the pummeling summer heat, had its genesis in Conner's early days in the business when he worked at Mexican restaurants.
"It's based off the aguas frescas and horchatas the cooks would prepare after the kitchen closed. They did amazing, inspired things with carrots," said Conner, who took the day off to play with his 5-year-old daughter, one of his two children. "I'm teaching her to ride a scooter." The latter statement was said in the same tone in which he further described how he devised the Watermelon Crush. "I was just trying to come up with a refreshing drink."
Conner's winning concoction.
When the bartender, who has worked with the Consilient Restaurants group for six years, including stint at Victor Tango's and Fireside Pies, travels north for the contest, he will be required to show how the drink is made in order to vie for the $5,000 prize -- that is, if he advances to the final heat that night. "If I win, I'm going to use the money to catch up on bills and install new carpet in our house." So much for the chug-a-fifth for breakfast stereotype of spirit slingers, eh?