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Cha Cha's Bartender's Competition: Meet the Contenders

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Cha Cha's Cantina is gearing up for their 10th Annual Bartender's Competition, which begins next Monday, July 11, 2016. The competition, which will take place in three rounds over the next three weeks, gives Richmond bartenders the opportunity to prove their speed, accuracy, flair, and showmanship and earn the title of Best Richmond Bartender of 2016. We spent the afternoon with contenders Kevin Sheffield and Shelby Strother to hear their thoughts on the competition and what they're hoping to bring to the table.

Tell us about yourself…
Kevin: I started bartending March last year at Society Social Club and Cha Cha’s Cantina. Before that I promoted for both places. In October last year, I started bartending at Lady N’awlins & F.W. Sullivan's in the Fan as well.

Shelby: I started bartending in 2011 up in Fredericksburg, VA.

The competition highlights flair bartending. How did you get into flair bartending? What is your favorite part about it? Favorite trick?
K: I got into flair bartending thanks to my buddy Ariyan Suroosh from Southern Railway Taphouse. My favorite trick is being able to spin a basketball on my finger while pouring.

S: I saw that it was a male-driven market and wanted to add some sass and curves, so one day at my job I started flipping a bottle for fun. I would watch the guys at the bar play around and do tricks, then I would go home and practice them on my own. My favorite part about flair bartending is seeing the crowd get excited and have fun.

What’s your favorite drink? Favorite drink to make? Favorite drink when no one is looking?
K: My favorite drink is a simple Jack and Coke. My favorite drink to make is a Fun Dip. When no one is looking, I like to throw back a crisp Bold Rock cider.

S: I’m in a committed relationship with Rumple Minze right now; however, I do still love my ex-boyfriend Jameson. My favorite drink to make is definitely a Belle Isle Grapefruit Martini. When no one’s looking, I love to drink Capri Suns. You’re never too old!

What do you do when you’re not bartending?
K: Besides bartending I'm a sponsored skateboarder, I play basketball, and try to find the best food places around Richmond.

S: When I’m not bartending, I love to spend time with my friends and my new puppy!

Tell us about the competition…
K: It’ll be three rounds - a speed round, memorization round, and showmanship round.

S: This year, it’s a battle of the sexes, too. It will be a fun, healthy competition that covers all the skills you need for bartending, especially flair.

What are you bringing to the competition?
K: Hype, especially for the showmanship round.

S: Sex appeal and red hair.

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Who are some competitors to look out for?
K: There's a lot of great bartenders that are usually in the competition, so I'd look out for everyone!

S: This guy Kevin right here is going to kill it. Everyone better watch out for him!