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Stoli® Vodka Honors the Legacy of LGBTQ Bartenders in the Movement for Equality, Kicks Off Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic Competition

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

PR Newswire
Stoli® Vodka Honors the Legacy of LGBTQ Bartenders in the Movement for Equality, Kicks Off Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic Competition
Mar 01, 2017, 08:57 ET

4-27-2013 3-29-19 AM

NEW YORK, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/—Today, Stoli® Group USA, LLC in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, is returning to New York to kick off the world’s largest annual LGBTQ bartending competition, the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic. Now in its fourth year, the competition will feature more contestants, participating cities and charitable donations than ever before.

In addition to recognizing the talents of the industry’s top LGBTQ bartenders, the Cocktail Classic celebrates the role that gay bars have played in the movement towards equality as original community centers. The competition will culminate in Key West, FL, a diverse and accepting city with a thriving LGBTQ community.

The world’s largest annual LGBTQ cocktail competition, The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, returns for its fourth year, showcasing the creativity and talent of mixologists and bartenders in the LGBTQ community. Seventeen regional finalists will compete for the 2017 Cocktail Classic Champion title at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2017.
The world’s largest annual LGBTQ cocktail competition, The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, returns for its fourth year, showcasing the creativity and talent of mixologists and bartenders in the LGBTQ community. Seventeen regional finalists will compete for the 2017 Cocktail Classic Champion title at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2017.
The Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic finale is generously being hosted and judged by actor and musician, Jai Rodriguez, and past as well as returning celebrity judges include president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk; writer and Emmy Award-winner, Bruce Vilanch; American Idol’s Latoya London; fashion designer and nightlife personality Andrew Christian; and Key West’s drag queen star, Sushi.

“Every year we look forward to bringing together the people, charities and business that make up our extraordinary LGBTQ community,” said Patrik Gallineaux, Stoli’s National LGBTQ Ambassador and Brand Manager. “While our mission is to recognize the most talented and innovative bartenders, community will always be at the heart of Cocktail Classic. It has been a privilege to support and grow together over the years.”

A maximum of six LGBTQ trade staff and/or allies from 17 cities across North America will be selected to create an original cocktail using Stoli Vodka as their primary ingredient. A panel of judges and 100 eligible audience members will evaluate each cocktail based on taste, balance and presentation, as well as each bartender’s authenticity, knowledge, and creativity in presentation and performance.

The finalist from each regional competition will win a six-day, all-inclusive trip to participate in a week of events and celebratory entertainment culminating in the grand finale during Key West Pride 2017. In addition to being named the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Champion, the winner of the final event will ride in the Key West Pride Parade as Honorary Grand Marshall and receive:

$12,500 grand prize for a pre-selected charity of his/her choice;
a victory celebration and charity check presentation at champion’s home bar hosted by Stoli Vodka;
and an all-expense paid exclusive Stoli Vodka destination event
The first runner up to the 2017 Champion will also receive $2,500 for their chosen charity.

“Stoli’s work through the Key West Cocktail Classic is an example of how companies can use their resources to make a difference both large and small,” stated Matt Hon, Executive Director of the Key West Business Guild. “From the charitable monetary donations to general awareness, the Cocktail Classic has significantly impacted our local community by becoming a destination event for the city of Key West. In 2016, we saw tourism and revenue increase by 20-percent on the island during Pride!”

The 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Tour Schedule:

Kick Off: New York, NY: Boxers – March 1
Dallas, TX: Round-Up Saloon – March 6
San Diego, CA: Rich’s – March 22
Los Angeles, CA: The Abbey – March 25
Denver, CO: Hamburger Mary’s – March 27
Atlanta, GA: Swinging Richards – March 30
Miami, FL: Score – April 5
New Orleans, LA: Oz – April 12
Philadelphia, PA: Franky Bradley’s – April 18
Washington, D.C.: Nellie’s Sports Bar – April 24
Chicago, IL: Sidetrack – April 26
Dayton, OH: MJ’s on Jefferson – May 1
Boston, MA: Club Cafe – May 4
Toronto, ON: Gladstone Hotel – May 11
Portland, OR: CC Slaughters – May 16
Vancouver, BC: Numbers Cabaret – May 18
Northern California (San Francisco): Club 21 – May 22
Finale: Key West, FL: Bourbon St. Pub– June 10
Last year’s Champion, Rocky Collins from the Round-Up in Dallas proudly competed for DIFFA/Dallas and which raises funds for organizations that support education programs, treatment and direct care services for people living with or impacted by HIV and AIDS. Rocky also won a matching $5,000 donation to the Wesley House Family Services in Key West, an organization he represented on behalf of the Key West Business Guild. Rocky’s winning cocktail and presentation best embodied the spirit of the Key West community and the heart of the competition. Named ‘The Key West Kitty Kat,’ Rocky’s original Stoli cocktail is made with 2 oz. Stoli Vanil, 2 oz. coconut simple syrup, 1.5 oz. pineapple juice, 0.5 oz. key lime juice, coconut cream, grenadine, cinnamon and garnished with a pineapple slice and served over ice.

For more information about the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic including how to apply, rules, guidelines and the full schedule of events, visit

About Key West Business Guild

The mission of the Key West Business Guild is to promote LGBTQ travel to Key West through marketing and the promotion of specialty events; to support gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses; to strengthen the Gay community’s position within the local community by supporting relevant LGBTQ issues. The KWBG was founded in 1978 by 8 local gay business owners and has grown to approximately 400 members, which work together to continue efforts to brighten the rainbow over the island, an island now known as Gay Key West. Promotion of events, such as Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest, has made Key West a year-round LGBTQ travel destination. For more information visit

About Stoli Group, USA
Stoli Group USA, LLC is a U.S. importer and marketer of alcoholic beverages, headquartered in New York City. Stoli Group USA is a subsidiary of SPI Group based out of Luxemburg, one of the world’s most dynamic wine and spirits organizations. Formed in 2013, Stoli Group USA’s current portfolio of brands includes the Stolichnaya® brand of premium vodkas and Stoli Ginger Beer, ultra-premium elit®Vodka, Louisiana-distilled Bayou® Rum, artfully designed KAH® Tequila, Achaval-Ferrer™ from Argentina, and Arinzano wines of Spain.

Media Contact:
Patrick Rizzuto
Golin for Stoli Group, USA
T. +1 212.373.6015

Out Front Colorado Interviews Bruce Vilanch

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Out Front Colorado
Flamboyant and funny Bruce Vilanch
By Matt Kailey

Even if you haven’t seen Bruce Vilanch on stage, read his past columns in The Advocate or caught him on Hollywood Squares, if you watch the Academy Awards, you are familiar with his work. Vilanch has been writing for the annual extravaganza for the past 21 years, garnering Emmys along the way, as well as writing for a variety of other awards shows, television series and specials, and various stage and screen comedians and entertainers.

For the last few decades, Vilanch has been one of the most sought-after comedy writers in television. But this versatile talent is also a popular actor, most recently known for his Broadway and touring performance as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, as well as a recognized HIV/AIDS activist.

Now Vilanch brings his special brand of humor to Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in Denver for two shows only, on May 15 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

“It’s my one-man extravaganza,” says Vilanch from Boca Raton, Fla., where he is visiting his “sainted mother” prior to his “informal” tour. “I call it sit-down, because I tell stories and talk about my hysterical, ill-gotten career.”

The last time Vilanch was in Denver, he was appearing in the touring production of Hairspray.

“I had a great time when I was there and the town was fun,” he says. “And I’ve never held so many notes quite so long because of the altitude. And once you get used to it and once you stop collapsing on stage, you get tremendous wind.”

Other than that, he has only been through for “the ritual changing of planes at the teepee out in the prairie [DIA]. ... It’s pretty funny. When you come from a distance, you think, ‘Oh, my god, the circus is in town! ... But there’s something very theatrical about it. I have to give them high marks for attempting something very flamboyant.”

Flamboyance is something with which Vilanch is very familiar. His trademark look – a cascade of bushy blonde hair, wild glasses and screen-printed T-shirts – makes him instantly recognizable wherever he goes. How did he get his look?

“It snuck up on me gradually,” he says. “I was in deep rebellion because I had a very fussy mother … who always wanted me to look just so. But I was fat and ungainly and I could never look just so, so I decided if I could never look like something out of a magazine, I was going to look distinctive. And more than that, I was going to be comfortable. Because when you’re a fat kid, nothing fits. ... I have all my own hair and a lot of it. And people are desperately jealous. So I decided that was a feature I had, so I was going to use it. And I had to wear glasses, and I thought if I’m gonna wear glasses, I’m gonna wear glasses that are fun, because I’m fun, damn it! And T-shirts were the most comfortable thing. ... It became a look.”

And Vilanch became a character in his own right – just like the Oscar-presenting stars that he writes lines for. But the various stars’ ability to portray characters is often what makes it difficult to write for them.

“Most of these people work in front of the camera most of the time,” says Vilanch, “so they’re not used to being in front of a live audience, and a live television audience of 190 billion people or whatever they claim, so that’s the first thing – you kind of have to find a personality for them. Unless they’re stand-up comics or performers, they don’t have a stage persona of their own, so you have to come up with one for them – because they’re used to playing characters. You have to find the character for them to play, even to do this little thing.”

But then there are the other stars he writes for – the ones who do have stage personas, like Bette Midler.

“I started with her, and it’s been a fabulous ride,” he says. “I’ve been working with her for 40 years, which is difficult, because she’s only 32.”

He also, of course, writes for himself – which is what you’ll enjoy when you catch him at Lannie’s. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had. And Vilanch has his own wishes for his brief stay in the Mile High City.

“I could use the company of a Bronco or two,” he says. “I’ve met quite a bunch of Colorado guys, and they all could really hold their breath. And we know how important that is.”
Bruce on Bruce

Is there a dishy inside-Hollywood story you can tell?
I’m saving it for my book. Isn’t everybody saving it for their book? Aren’t you saving it for your book?

What are you most proud of?
Oh, probably having sex with ‘N Sync. ... What I’m actually proud of is that, starting 25 years ago, when nobody would fund AIDS research or services for people with AIDS, we rallied the show-business community, and we started doing fundraisers and brought the disease to the public’s attention and filled in where government wouldn’t and organized ourselves into a kind of community, which now became the basis of the entire gay civil rights movement.

Do you have a partner?
No. I’m auditioning all the time. I’m holding open calls everywhere.

What are you looking for?
At this point, somebody with their own income.

Thoughts on Hairspray?
I can’t wait until it’s released to high schools, because every high school has got a fat girl who can really sing and dance and some fat queen who wants to do drag.
Get tickets and more information at

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