KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic’s grand finale week is to bring regional winners from LGBTQ bars in 14 North American cities to Key West to compete to create an original Key West cocktail that embodies the island’s spirit and diverse culture.
The final rounds of the national bartender challenge are scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, June 5-9, coinciding with the Key West Pride celebration. Presented in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, events are to feature regional winners from the U.S. and Canada.
“The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic is now in its sixth year as the world’s most comprehensive annual touring LGBTQ bartender celebration and competition,” said Patrik Gallineaux, event producer and LGBTQ ambassador/manager for Stoli Group USA.
“One of the most exciting parts of it is that the ‘finish line’ is a full week spent in the magical island community of Key West celebrating the southernmost Pride in the U.S.,” Gallineaux said.
To date, the cocktail classic has awarded $55,000 to past champions to donate to their chosen hometown charities and partnered nonprofits in Key West. The 2019 winners are to award their designated charities a total of $25,000.
Key West Pride and the Stoli Classic are to hold a kick-off gala at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at Key West’s Island House Resort, 1129 Fleming St. The all-welcome festivities feature a meet-and-greet with Stoli contestants and celebrity judges.
The first elimination round is to be held Thursday, June 6, at Aqua Night Club, 711 Duval St. Round two is set for Friday, June 7, at the 801 Bourbon Bar at 801 Duval St. Featuring multiple “bar stars” battling for spots in the final round, each round is to be preceded by blind samplings at 5 p.m. with audiences voting for their favorite libations.
Saturday’s final round is planned for 7:30 p.m. on an outdoor stage adjacent to the Bourbon Street Pub Complex, 724 Duval St. Gallineaux is to host, accompanied by “Real Housewives of Dallas” star LeeAnne Locken.
Celebrity performers and contest judges include renowned comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch, recording artist Debby Holiday, former “American Idol” finalist LaToya London, South Florida cabaret favorite Jennifer McClain and Key West female impersonator Sushi. Event organizers said the judging panel might also feature a surprise celebrity.
Festivities culminate in the 2019 Pride Parade led by the Stoli winner. Slated to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 9, the procession is to proceed up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the parade, participants can attend Stoli's official after party and check presentation of $5,000 each to the first- and second-place winners’ designated Key West charities at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St.
Festivities culminate in the 2019 Pride Parade, to proceed up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.