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Oakland 209 Gin Cocktail Competition at Sidebar Oakland, California

Sidebar Oakland 
You know the Oakland Restaurant Scene has picked up when Sidebar Restaurant on Grand Avenue holds what was the Adams Point District's first cocktail competition. The 209 Gin Oakland Bartender Cocktail Competition was held last Wednesday night at the Lake Merritt bistro-style eatery known for its good food and warm atmosphere. The idea was to learn who could make the best drink creation based on 209 Gin - the makers of which did not endorse this blog post.

The competition featured great bartenders making great cocktails and from some of Oakland's hottest eateries: Matt and Brian from Sidebar, Marjon from Era Art and Design Bar, Josh from Pican, Alex from Marzano, Matt from The Wood Tavern, Brian representing Levende East, and Jon who's at Grand Tavern, and Eric from Adesso.

(As an aside, the only problem was all of the Oakland 209 Gin Cocktail Competition bartenders were men. There are some great female bartenders, like Britt at Pican, for example.)

Between the cocktails and all of the people who knew each other, the competition was less that and more a family reunion. Pican owner Michael Le Blanc talked with Sidebar General Manager Anne Marie Adrain and her partner Ara. The Wood Tavern's Rich Wood talked with Le Blanc. And Anne Marie, as the gracious Sidebar host, talked to everyone. And most of the bartenders knew each other, either from previous work places or just from hanging out in Oakland. You didn't have to be from Oakland to know it's got a small town feel just from attending the competition.

John from Pican and Brian from Sidebar were the winners

Well, who won? According to Wendi Webster, who produced the event for 209 Gin, the judges (who got to eat Sidebar's great burgers) picked Brian from Sidebar as the overall winner. The crowd voted for Josh from Pican as their favorite. Both did a great job and you should visit Sidebar and Pican in Oakland when you can.
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