Top Chef For Bartenders?

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Now that Bravo's Top Chef is over, the $1,000,000 question is: What am I supposed to DVR? (C'mon who watches live TV anymore?) Sure, there are other great shows, and this season wasn't necessarily my favorite, but Top Chef has an appeal that is heads above other shows. The irony being that you're presented with dish after dish that you will likely never try, but the dynamics, the skill tests, the personalities make the dishes come to life. As a bartender, it makes me think the same could be a true of a bartending show.

The only problem is the premier bartender competition show, Fine Living Network's Bartender Wars, is just plain crap. Read Jason Wilson's review for more detail, but I assure you Bartender Wars takes the profession back by years. Which leaves only one show remaining--On the Rocks: The Search for America's Top Bartender, a Web-only show produced by NBC.

After a few episodes I must say I'm charmed by this show. It's easy to see what it lacks but you can also see the seed of a good show. Better production quality, some revolving judges, a little more personality development, and they'd have it. Although the judges may need a little coaxing too, all except for Fabrizio Brienza--nightlife impresario--who trades in over-the-top.

But it also raises the question: should a bartender show simply mimic Top Chef? Some of the situations seem absurd--such as when there is a mock customer interaction--and then not all of the skill-sets are explored. I wonder how a better show could be made. After all, bartending is definitely next in line for a culinary competition show.

Well, let's put our thinking caps on, but but in the meantime you can watch On the Rocks online all the way up to the finale.

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Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He sits on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail. More

Derek Brown is a writer, illustrator, bartender, and co-owner of acclaimed bars The Passenger and Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. He travels throughout the country and around the world in search of great drinks, and the stories behind them. Derek's methodical approach to cocktails was profiled in the Wall Street Journal's "A Master of Mixological Science" and his martini lauded as the best in America by GQ. He's been in numerous media outlets featuring his approach to better drinking, including CNN, The Rachel Maddow Show and FOX. Derek is a founding member of the D.C. Craft Bartender's Guild and on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail.
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