Dayton's Bartenders to Battle: Pick the winner

Bartenders from 14 restaurants and taverns are preparing to go cocktail to cocktail.

Miami Valley Restaurant Association's Buckeye Vodka sponsored Battle of the Bartenders  will go down at White Allen European Auto Dealership, 648 N. Springboro Pike, Miami Twp., 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Admission is $2o and includes food, four drink samples and live music from Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle. Click here to get your tickets.

A panel of judges will crown a victor and the people will honor their choice award.

Dustin Wade of The  Meadowlark Restaurant,  5531 Far Hills Ave., Washington Twp., is gearing up to repeat his victory in last year's battle,  the first for MVRA.

His root-beer-float inspired concoction blew judges away and won the day.

Wade hasn't exactly nailed down what he'll do this year, but said it may involve infusing a cocktail with a smoke flavor.

The competition is an opportunity to try something new or from a different angle, he said.

"It's just something fun," said Wade, who considers himself a "creative" behind the bar.

"If someone asked me to make them a sex on a beach, I wouldn't know how to,"  he said. "I'd probably buy them a plane ticket."

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MVRA Executive Director Amy Zahora said the drink lineup is impressive with innovative and classic cocktails paired with grub.

The Dock, 250 W. Main St., Enon, will for instance serve a Buckeye Vodka Bloody Mary with grilled cheese.

A few new kids will join this year's competition.

Maria Walusis, the chef owner at recently opened Nibbles Restaurant and Catering, 105 S. Second St., Miamisburg, is eager to show off the talents of her favorite bartender, her hubby Eric.

Nibbles will be showing off Eric Walusis' Ginger and Mary Ann.

The cocktail pays tribute to the iconic characters played by Tina Louise and  Dawn Wells  on the sitcom Gilligan's Island.

The cocktail is light yellow on the bottom and blue on the top thanks to ginger liquor, lemon juice, blueberry vodka and a few tricks.

It comes garnished with lemon peel flowers and ice cut in a gingham pattern.

Walusis said her husband has worked hard on this one.

"This is a chance to showcase what we do with cocktails," Walusis said. "We are trying to be innovative and creative. This will show what we can do, and it is fun."

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