Stirrings, a brand of natural bar ingredients that, yeah, you’ve probably never heard of until now, held a competition for a new brand ambassador/official bartender today at the Time Warner Center. Six shirtless (but apron-clad) finalists competed behind a makeshift bar to impress judges with their charm and skill — an excellent marketing strategy of eye candy/brand association, as far as we’re concerned.
Carlo Romero came into the competition with good looks and no plans for what drinks he should make, and beat out the others for a one-year contract by focusing on tasty drinks and an “informed presentation.”
“I think I took more of an intellectual approach,” says Romero, who spent a year trading bonds at J.P. Morgan — seriously — before becoming a male model. Having only tended bar at events for a few months, he never expected to take home the title. Romero attributes his win to “years of experience as a discerning drinker” that started even before he could drink alcohol. “When I was a kid, I always loved fruit juice,” he says. Adorable, naturally.
The judges, who Romero calls “no joke,” included Celia Chen, founder and editor of Notes on a Party, and Joaquin Simo, a bartender at the East Village’s Death & Co.
“The drinks that he made were fantastic,” says Jody Samuels Ike, a employee of Stirrings’s parent company, Diagio, and the third of the judges. They were primarily looking for someone “who really does embrace the all-natural lifestyle,” she says. (Meaning, booze is okay as long as it’s mixed with natural ingredients. The pomegranate mixer I sampled was tasty enough to make me a believer.) In addition to his drink skills, Ike chose Romero because of his “balanced energy,” a/k/a, he didn’t make an embarrassing spectacle of himself on stage.
One competitor flexed so often his biceps must be sore while yelling to the audience about the great all-natural mix-ins he was using. Another tried to woo the judges, dubbing his drink “sweet and spicy, just like me.” Romero laughed at the suggestion that the other contestants were more intense about the competition than he was: “Oh yeah,” he said.