Atthisyear’s Iron Shaker, mixologists shake hands, then stir up
thecompetition. By Shelby Vittek
There was as much camaraderie as competitiveness on display at this year’s Iron Shaker, the annual statewide cocktail competition that crowns New
Jersey’s best bartender.
Finalists from eight different bars around the
state gathered at the House of Independents in
Asbury Park on October 8 to compete in the sixth
annual Iron Shaker contest. The top bartenders
crafted drinks in four themed rounds: dive bar,
speakeasy, tiki, and a cocktail that represented
their restaurant or bar concept.
Event master of ceremonies Steve Fette, the
2016 Iron Shaker winner and now development
specialist for Allied Beverage Group, kicked off the
evening with an announcement: “We’re drinking
cocktails tonight, but we’re drinking for a cause.”
For the first time this year, the Community Food-Bank of New Jersey and Fulfill hosted Iron Shaker
as a charity event, and all proceeds from ticket
sales were donated to help feed hungry families.
Two former competitors returned this year to
clash for another chance at the grand prize: Carlos
Ruiz of Somos in North Arlington, who took
second place in the 2016 and 2015 competitions;
and Bobby Frascella of Summit House in Summit,
who placed second in last year’s Iron Shaker. “I’m
back to win it,” said Frascella as he assembled a
cocktail in a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can during
the first round.
Other competitors shared a similar spirited
rivalry. Colin Dietz and Brittan Binder of Tapastre
in Somerville were up against Max Stephenson,
bartender from Project P.U.B., their sister restaurant. “It’s like trying to beat your little brother,”
Ruiz and Frascella took an early lead, tied in
first place after the first round, in which they both
presented their dive bar-themed cocktails to the
Opposite page: Carlos Ruiz
of Somos in North Arlington
proudly holds the 2018 Iron
Shaker trophy at the House of
Independents in Asbury Park.
Above: Ruiz’s round 4 cocktail,
La Pantera Rosa (the Pink
Panther), a crowd favorite that
helped him clinch the win.
LA PANTERA ROSA 1. 5 oz Tres Agaves Reposado tequila . 5 oz Gracias a Dio