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Nakagawa takes bartender title


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POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judging a bar-tending competition isn't just about drinking—at least not at the annual "Iron Bartender Competition" at Ryan's Grill.

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Sure, tasting a cocktail here and there is part of the job, but what I like about "Iron Bartender" is that it also places a premium on how fast—and accurately—a bartender can make those drinks. During three weeks of preliminaries, only the fastest, most creative and most engaging mixologists moved on to the finals last Tuesday.

Joined by former "Iron Bartender" winner Jason Silveria, Tropics Cafe owner Pat Kashani, KHON's Kyle Funasaki and local attorney Shawn Ching, we set out to determine which of the seven finalists would win. I was familiar with three of them—Gordon Biersch's Chelsea Morimoto, the Living Room's Titus Nakagawa and freelance bartender Ryan Pierce—so I knew it would be interesting.

After watching bottles get tossed, fireballs erupt and being served a drink in an oversize fishbowl, we determined that Nakagawa was the undisputed champ for 2009. The win was even sweeter for him because he was a replacement for the bartender who had won the preliminary round he had competed in ...

"IRON BARTENDER" bonus items: Ching might not be on KITV anymore, but the ladies still love this former University of Hawaii football player. I thought I was being checked out by a bunch of women at Ryan's, until I realized it was Ching, who was sitting behind me, they were all looking at ... Na Leo's Lehua Kalima was in the building last week, and she confirmed there are plans for her to record and release a solo album later this year ... Despite outlasting other restaurants at Ward Centre, the company that owns Ryan's has decided to cut back its entertainment schedule. That means no live music on Wednesdays—not a good look, especially when another promotion like "Iron Bartender" was able to pack people in on a Tuesday ...

OUT AND ABOUT: Fitted Hawaii celebrated the launch of its new online store with a hibachi session at Ala Moana Beach Park last weekend. "Instead of doing it at a club or whatever, we wanted our families to come down and be a part of it as well," said co-owner Keola Rapozo. "We did what we knew and then just added the element of the Web store." In addition to collecting donations for the Hawaii Foodbank, the afternoon included performances by Jeff Peterson, Tassho Pearce and J Boog. Visit www.fittedhawaii.com ... Island 98.5's Lanai Tabura is moving into the realm of wine with the release of his new Look Me in the Eye brand. He'll celebrate with a launch party May 29 at the Honolulu Design Center. "I will be doing tastings all over the state and I hope to catch some of you to try it," Tabura posted on his blog, www.lanaismind.com. "I think when you learn how to drink wine you will appreciate the many different flavors it has." ... Happy birthday to the Jami "DJ Jami" Ablan. He celebrated Saturday at thirtyninehotel's "Shake and Pop!" with DJs Solution and Delve ...

WEEKEND PICKS: Pipeline Cafe welcomes a full complement of local rock bands at tomorrow's "Rock Solid Friday," with sets by Big Dawg, Friends of Adam, Lucky 13, Velvit Mantis, Bari Bari 13 and Journey tribute band Escape. Doors open at 8 p.m. for those 21 and over; cover is $10 ... Hawaii Pacific Entertainment will partner mixed martial arts with the rides at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday during "MMA Madness." Admission is $23.99, which includes access to all rides at the water park and martial arts demonstrations by Niko Vitale, Sidney Silva, Shane Nelson and Kala Hose. Applications will also be taken for the 2010 "Miss MMA Hawaii" competition. Call 551-5390 for info ... Satellite Grey will debut its new music video Saturday at thirtyninehotel during "Metamorphosis." DJ Kitty Lee will spin between live sets by Satellite Grey, Stillborn Skies and the re-formed (for one night only) Explore. Doors open at 9 p.m. ...