The National Restaurant Association announced Baron Stelling of Paragary’s Midtown and The Shady Lady Saloon in San Francisco as the 2016 Star of the Bar, a national cocktail competition hosted by the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) at the NRA Show. For the first time, the competition was held live at BAR’s Main Stage in McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, and was emceed by Spike TV’s Bar Rescue Host and Executive Producer Jon Taffer.
Stelling won with the creative Stag Savior cocktail, blending Jägermeister with gin, lime juice, grenadine, apricot liquor, dashes of bitters and absinthe, topped with a lime wheel and mint sprig garnish. Stelling was one of six finalists from the Regional Star of the Bar Market Challenge, who created drinks using Jägermeister, exclusively imported and distributed in the U.S. by Star of the Bar sponsor Sidney Frank Importing Company.
Finalists from each market were flown to Chicago to face off in front of show attendees and a panel of judges, including “World’s Best Bartender” winner Charles Joly, industry veteran Natalia Cardenas, and Eater Chicago Editor Daniel Gerzina. In addition to bragging rights as this year’s Star of the Bar, Stelling earned a $5,000 prize for his creation.
After six regional finals—held in Chicago, San Diego, Boston, Charleston, New York City, and San Francisco—Stelling then conquered the finals this past Sunday at BAR at the NRA Show, in front of the judges and amongst a crowd of BAR attendees, ultimately winning the title.