ST. CLOUD -- Some of the best bartenders in St. Cloud gathered at the Martini Lounge in downtown St. Cloud on Monday night to compete for the title of 'Iron Bartender'.

Teams of two bartenders represented six local bars:  Red Carpet, Veranda Lounge, D.B. Searles, Green Mill, Olde Brick House, and Old Capital Tavern.

The bartenders were allowed to bring their own ingredients, but they were required to use all of the ingredients given to them in a blind drawing.

The title of 'Iron Bartender' was awarded by three judges.  Myself (full disclosure I have no bartending experience), and two professionals in the industry -- Rikki Iglesias of World Class Wines and Dominic Giuliani of Palm Bay International.  Contestants were judged on three categories:  creativity, presentation, and most importantly taste.

Winning cocktail, photo by's Jim Maurice

The winning bartender was Chase Heck from the Veranda Lounge.  He called his winning concoction the "smorgasbord".  The ingredients he was required to include were peaches, bacon, smoked paprika, and green olives.

The runners-up were from Old Capital Tavern.  Their required ingredients were sun-dried tomatoes, Himalaya salt, and Doritos.

Old Capital Tavern bartenders, photo by's Jim Maurice

The audience also got to participate in the event.  They sampled all six cocktails and voted for their favorite.  The fans voted their best coming from the bartenders from the Red Carpet.  Their required ingredients were Milk and Honey Cider, sugar cookies, and an egg.

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