Angostura is coming to town — with a challenge for Tampa Bay bartenders

Eight cocktail maestros plan to swizzle things up at Hotel Bar.

click to enlarge One example of a swizzle drink? The Queen's Park Swizzle served at downtown Tampa's Hotel Bar. - Courtesy of Hotel Bar
Courtesy of Hotel Bar
One example of a swizzle drink? The Queen's Park Swizzle served at downtown Tampa's Hotel Bar.

The House of Angostura, responsible for those venerable aromatic and orange bitters behind your favorite local bar, is looking for its swizzle champion. Luckily, eight Tampa Bay bartenders are up for the challenge.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday, the Swizzle Royale tasks the participating lineup of cocktail maestros — Jesus Santiago (Hotel Bar), Erin Davey (The Mandarin Hide), Chuck Cooper (Haven), Ryan Brown (Fine & Dandy), Daniel Bareswilt (CW's Gin Joint), Lexy Biller (Crane Ramen, based in Gainesville) Charles Britch (Fly Bar & Restaurant) and Matt Pingol (Ciro's Speakeasy and Supper Club) — with duking it out during three head-to-head battles at downtown Tampa's Hotel Bar.

This competition, as if its name wasn't a dead giveaway, is focused on swizzle drinks, which are specifically, well, swizzled with a swizzle stick — not shaken or stirred. Served as part of Hotel Bar's regular menu, the classic Queen's Park Swizzle (Matusalem rum, lime, mint, Demerara, Angostura bitters) is one example.

And the key ingredient competitors must use to "enhance" their cocktails? Angostura, of course.

Consisting of industry experts, the panel of judges is set to score each bartender on creativity, speed and personality, while guests snag swizzle and Angostura cocktails at a discount throughout the evening, plus giveaways. But the best part just might be that there's no cost for the public to catch all of the action.

Throughout the summer, Angostura plans to hit seven locations in the U.S. and Canada with the Swizzle Royale, including Toronto, Denver and Seattle. Tampa is the competition's second stop — the first being Washington, D.C.

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