Newport’s Newest Cocktail Wars Champion Is…

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Sunday night gave us Season IV’s runner-up, champ…and then we realized the season’s real winner.

Sunday night at the Gas Lamp Grille was on exactly the note one would want the latest season of Cocktail Wars to end. There were a bunch of talented bartenders itching to demonstrate the fruits of their talents and experience. The judging panel was likely the most authoritative and knowledgeable that has been sat together yet. The crowd was the who’s-who of Newport’s (Sunday) nightlife. Put it all together and there was a lot of enthusiasm for good drinks on both sides of the bar…er…tables.

The Liquor

The liquor for the competition was Tito’s Vodka.


Unless you’ve spent the last 5 years or so imprisoned by the Taliban, you should know Tito’s. It’s a moderately-priced vodka that’s seen a big spike in popularity in the last few years. Basically, it tastes better than the premium stuff (Grey Goose, Belvedere) for about half the price.

It’s an interesting choice for the finale of a cocktail competition. As spirits go, vodka is the most indecisive man in Switzerland in terms of neutrality. There’s little to balance out. It gives the competitors complete freedom to make anything they want without concern that it doesn’t “mix” right. We’d have preferred something like mezcal, a smoky agave liquor that all the best bartenders we know love to play with.

Instead, the bartenders got completely free reign, which a few found somewhat intimidating, because they didn’t know how far to push the envelope. Were they going to impress the judges with a well-made, simple martini…or did they need to set stuff on fire and add a live tadpole to the process?

The Bartenders

Doug Randall Jr.


Tall, goofy and unable to stop talking, Doug is Newport’s favorite Jamestown firefighter.

Zachary Pierce
-Perro Salado


We know two things about Zach: He has a beard and it’s likely he’d have preferred Mezcal too.

Oliver Dennis-Bale
-Tavern On Broadway


Oliver likes really complex cocktails and talking a lot, which means we have more video of him mixologing than any other bartender this season.

Carly Frederick
-Vanderbilt Grace


Carly’s sort of the Maverick/Goose of this competition. Eliminated the first round, she got to slide into Rian McCarthy’s spot in the semi-finals when he skipped town for the week to go on vacation. Guess she’s lucky and famous.

Christina Mercado
-Vanderbilt Grace


Christina is a dangerous hybrid of bartender and chef, which means that she can think out of everyone else’s box, while comfortably in her own.


So we’re going to tell you who won without requiring you to watch the video…on the next page.


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Tristan's just this guy, ya know?