Garrison Brothers Distillery makes bourbon that tastes marvelous on its own — but the Hill Country whiskey maker wants to see how its flagship spirit can be best represented in a cocktail.

To that end, Garrison Brothers is about to launch a bartender competition that comes with a $10,000 cash prize and an entire barrel of one of the distillery's rarest products, the Single Barrel.

Called the Garrison Brothers Bourbon Brawl, the competition kicks off one week before Texas Independence Day on March 2 and unfolds in three stages across the state from March to May. Starting on Feb. 24, bartenders will feature a cocktail with Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon on their menus as part of the distillery's Bourbon Takeover of Texas, a culinary event at bars and restaurants all over the state that mixes the whiskey with food and, of course, drink.

During the week-long event, Garrison Brothers' proprietor, Dan Garrison, will visit some of the participating restaurants in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Houston, tasting each of the cocktails. But he'll judge not just the taste; other factors under consideration, according to a news release, are "the bartender’s attitude, charm, camaraderie with customers, and concern for the well-being of their community and constituents."


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Once five bartenders from each city has been chosen, they'll move onto a semi-final round that will eliminate all but one from each group for the final showdown on May 2 in Austin. For this last competition, the bartenders "will represent his or her home turf in a five-round, Top Chef-style match-up to determine which bartender will take home the $10,000 prize," according to the news release.

Best of all, at least for those of us who aren't bartenders? You'll be able to watch the participants in action during the semi-finals and final round (and they can be quite intense).

Garrison created the competition to help advance a Texas bartender's career. Many bartenders, particularly those at craft cocktail-focused places, like to participate in liquor-sponsored bartending contests because they bring exposure, experience and prestige — and financial gain as well, of course.

"We want to permanently and positively change someone’s world,” Garrison said in the news release.

If you want your bar or restaurant to participate in the Bourbon Takeover of Texas next month, send an email to BTOT2019@garrisonbros.com.