Kristin Weddendorf, Drink Mixologist and Bar Manager at Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails, has been selected as one of the top twelve finalists from the Southwest region to compete in the United States Bartending Guild World Class Competition. She is one of three women selected to compete from her region, one of fourteen women set to compete in the nation, and is the only finalist from Oklahoma.
Having only previously competed in smaller, local competitions, Kristin is enthusiastic about showcasing her knowledge, skills and unique style at her first, big competition.
The selection process had many components. Not only did applicants have to answer questions in paragraph format and complete a series of World Class bartending education requirements; they also had to come up with their own cocktail program. Each applicant submitted five, distinctive cocktail recipes with a centralized theme. Four recipes were completely bartender’s choice. The final recipe had to include ingredients derived from a specific stock list provided to each applicant. The selection committee used the recipe to actually create that specific cocktail from each applicant.
Down-to-earth yet energetic, Kristin refers to herself as a “Bartender”, joking that that term “Mixologist” might come with some pretentious associations and that’s just not her. But as she humbly pointed out, they’re not just making Jack and Cokes.
“At Scratch, we put a lot of time and care into our cocktail program where everything is derived from the rawest ingredient. The syrups are made in house, the juices are squeezed fresh daily, and all ingredients are seasonal and local to Oklahoma,” Kristin explained.
Kristin has been bartending for nine years and has been with Scratch since its induction four years ago. Owner, Brady Sexton and Kristin had previously worked together and remained good friends over the years. When he decided to leave the oil business and open a restaurant that featured seasonal, classic cocktails, he asked Kristin to take the lead.
Part of what Kristin loves about her career at Scratch is that Brady champions women and gives them well-deserved opportunities to shine.
“Our head chef is female,” Kristen said. “I’ve been working in this industry for fifteen years and it’s very rare to consistently see women put in high roles.”
While Kristin hopes to win, she is also excited to get her name out there and highlight the place she loves to work.
Kristin feels she can continue to grow as a Bartender while working at Scratch. As with anything in life, perfecting one’s craft and being great at something requires knowledge, as she pointed out. When it comes to drinks, the possibilities are endless.
“It sounds crazy, but work is my hobby,” Kristin laughed.
In her spare time, Kristin enjoys reading books and studying bartending. Among her favorites are Work Clean by Dan Charnas and Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold. This year she will be a counselor at one of her favorite places and sources of inspiration – Camp Runamok in Kentucky. It is a typical summer camp setting with cabins and campfires except this summer camp is just for bartenders. Each year, 300 bartenders are chosen out of about 1,000 applicants to tour bourbon distilleries and study all things bourbon while also leaving time for plenty of fun activities. And yes, drinking is definitely always involved.
But for now, she is focused on preparing for the competition. The USBG Regional Final will take place in Oklahoma City on May 2nd and will consist of three rounds. In the first round titled “Sense and Nonsense”, each bartender will be required to make two drinks that give the judges a sensory experience such as a creating a smell or evoking a childhood memory. The second round will be a chef’s round. It will center on making a before and after dinner drink that pairs with a restaurant style menu which can either be real or made up by the bartender. The third round is a speed round where each bartender will have to make four drinks in less than six minutes.
From there, the judges will select their top three Regional Finalists who will compete against one another in the National Final in San Diego, California. The National Winner will then move on to represent the United States at the 2017 Global Finals against bartenders from around the world where a Global Bartender of the Year will be determined. This year the international final will take place in Mexico City.Coworkers and staff at Scratch as well as the many Normanites who have come to know Kristin are all rooting for her. In the meantime, Kristin can usually always be found at Scratch getting her bartending on. If you’re ever around downtown Norman, she would love to make you a drink.