Food & Drink

Chicago Style Is Kicking Off with Bar Fight Club

Jennifer Mitchell Photography

The newest cocktail conference in town, Chicago Style, is kicking things off by resurrecting one of the cocktail world’s greatest competitions: Bar Fight Club.  

From the brains of Caitlin Laman (beverage director for Ace Hotel), Shelby Allison (co-owner of Lost Lake) and Sharon Bronstein (vice president of marketing for The 86 Co.), Chicago Style will kick off on May 7 and run through to May 10. It’s a celebration of Chicago’s cocktail scene, but it will also focus on social and environmental issues within the hospitality industry with events like Trash Tiki Disco (featuring their anti-waste cocktails) and Speed Rack’s national championship event, which supports women bartenders along with breast cancer charities. Even the opening party, Bar Fight Club, is working to bring social awareness to drinking.

The event “spotlights bars that are not only doing great things in terms of hospitality and cocktails, but also taking into consideration the ways they can contribute to their communities and make steps towards being more sustainable,” says Bronstein. “We asked the bars to tell us about their programs and the ways in which they are trying to be sustainable, whether it’s doing away with plastic straws in favor of paper straws or no straws at all, or finding ways to take an ingredient and get multiple uses out of it. All of those things are practices we hope other bars will see and get inspiration from because it is those small changes that add up to a collective difference.” They also asked the bars how they were actively engaging in their communities, and six bars were chosen to compete out of 50 applicants: Barmini (Washington D.C.), The Drifter (Chicago), Navy Strength (Seattle), RiNo Yacht Club (Denver), Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis) and Starline Social Club (Oakland).

On the night of May 7, these six forward-thinking bars will go head-to-head with signature cocktails. Much like the fictional Fight Club, Bar Fight Club has only a couple of rules. The first is each bar must submit two signature cocktails made with Fords Gin. The second is each bar must submit two signature cocktails made with Del Maguey mezcal. The rules don’t quite roll off the tongue like, “Don’t talk about Fight Club,” but they leave just as much room for boozy anarchy and wild presentation. According to Bronstein, past competitors have brought performers with them and gone all out decorating their stations.

The event will take place at Fulton Market Kitchen from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Guests will get a chance to taste each bar’s cocktails and vote for their favorites, while a panel of judges will decide on a winning team, which will be rewarded with a trip to London to visit the Fords Gin distillery and local bars—as well as bragging rights, of course. Tickets are on sale now for $20, with all proceeds going to charity. You can buy them at Chicago Style’s website.