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Written by Dan Dunn
Justin Pike of The Tasting Kitchen Justin Pike of The Tasting Kitchen

As emcee of the 2011 LA’s Best Bartender Competition, which took place on 10/9/11 at the Elevate Lounge in downtown Los Angeles, it was my job to try and keep the 250 or so attendees engaged throughout an event that ran nearly four hours long and consisted of five nervous bartenders stirring and shaking liquids, while a panel of stone-faced judges stared at them and intermittently passed notes to one another scribbled on napkins. Woohoo!!!

Emceeing was no easy task, particularly because I myself was having a hell of a hard time focusing on the competition knowing that on the street below right outside the building, director Christopher Nolan was shooting a major scene from the upcoming blockbuster film, The Dark Knight Rises.

For a comic book geek such as myself, the choice between Batman or barmen was a no-brainer. Alas, the sponsors who’d hired me to host the event – and Karlsson’s Gold Vodka – didn’t quite see it that way. Neither did my Imbiber Show co-host Stretch Roberts, who was on hand to record another installment of our booze-soaked podcast.

“Hey, look who’s here – it’s Dale DeGroff!” I heard someone say when my old friend, and the world’s most famous bartender, arrived to judge the competition.

“Dale. Right. Great,” I mumbled, peering over the edge of the building at all the cool-looking “Gotham Police” cars crammed onto 6th Street several stories down. I suddenly had the strong urge – a cacoethes, if you will – to jump, just to see if Batman would come swooping in to save me. (He would. I was sure of it.)