Lynnette Marrero, owner and co-founder of Speed Rack started in the food-and-beverage industry in 2001, working at a wine bar and then a Martini lounge in New York as she tried to make it as a performer in off-Broadway productions.
That all changed when the Flatiron Lounge opened in 2003. Marrero was a staple there, going in every Thursday after her waitressing shifts and staying until the bar closed at 4 a.m. “When I entered the glamorous world and sampled the amazing, fresh cocktails, I knew that I wanted to work there,” she says. She ended up getting a job as a waitress a year later.
Marrero was hooked and started learning the recipes. “I loved the art that went into making a good cocktail,” she explains. “I lobbied to get behind the bar and Julie Reiner gave me a shot.” With Reiner, a legend in her own right, pushing Marrero into the cocktail world, she started working on her craft.
“When I was coming up, the industry was pretty gender blind,” she explains. “The craft of the cocktail was still pretty new and everyone, male or female, was working to learn this craft.” Marrero was drawn to this because “sometimes it’s hard for women to move up from a server to a bartender,” she says. People have to find alternate routes to navigate the systems, she says, like her Speed Rack partner Ivy Mix who picked up shifts at bars that would hire her as a bartender instead of having to move up internally.
In the U.S. at least, the industry seems more equally split, Marrero says. And with Speed Rack and the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, an organization Marrero founded that helps women bartenders and raises funds for women charities, Marrero is helping women by featuring their talent.
She admits that men and women are very different, but it’s that yin and yang that helps make a great combination for the industry.
About Speed Rack
Speed Rack is a competition created by and for female bartenders. And, while we're at it, we're going to raise some money to fight breast cancer. 100% proceeds from the events we produce in each of our cities will go to breast cancer education, prevention and research.
Speed Rack is a national cocktail competition featuring top female bartenders in key cocktail markets, putting them head to head in round robin style timed and judged challenges. It is the first competition to highlight the up and coming generation of strong women in the spirits industry.
In each city, using sponsors' products, participating bartenders are required to make a round of cocktails selected at random culled from a list of 50 industry-standard recipes. In front of a panel of food and beverage luminaries, the ladies go head to head in round robin style instant elimination rounds. The judges request and evaluate each drink based on accuracy, taste and presentation. After the surviving time and judging penalties, the swiftest and most skilled women under pressure move forward to the next round until our bracket is down to two. There is only one winner. She is crowned Miss Speed Rack.
Each local winner receives an honorarium to compete in the finals and the opportunity to be crowned Miss Speed Rack USA. Proceeds go to support breast cancer related charities. In our inaugural year (2011-2012), Speed Rack raised over $69,000 for: NBCF and SHARE.