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Montrose bar manager wins national bartending competition geared towards fighting breast cancer

After competing in the national bartending competition, Speed Rack, three years in a row, Sarah Troxell was thirsty for a win. This year, all her hard work finally paid off as she brought home the big win for H-Town and earned the title Season 9 Miss Speed Rack.

HOUSTON – If you’re in need of some Monday motivation, this next story proves that if at first you don’t succeed, just try, try and try again. Sarah Troxell, The Toasted Coconut Beverage Director, did just that, competing in the national bartending competition, Speed Rack, three years in a row. This year, all her hard work finally paid off as she brought home the big win for H-Town and earned the title Season 9 Miss Speed Rack. Even better than bringing home the championship? Knowing it was all for a good cause: aiding the fight to end breast cancer.

Speed Rack is an all-female high-speed global bartending competition aimed at raising funds to end breast cancer. (Gabi Porter)

“Speed Rack is a global competition designed to spotlight women in the industry,” said Troxell.”Over nine seasons they’ve donated over a million dollars, which is a really incredible amount of money, towards breast cancer research and different breast cancer charities.”

Troxell was first introduced to the fast paced world of Speed Rack as a newly minted mixologist, but being green didn’t stop her from throwing her hat in the ring.

“The first time I ever competed was in 2016, and the regional competition was actually in Houston,” said Troxell. “I made it on stage to the top eight, which as a rookie, first-time competitor fairly new to the craft bartending world, I was super proud of myself.”

Sarah Troxell, The Toasted Coconut Beverage Director, practicing for the Speed Rack competition. (Sarah Troxell)

In round-robin tournaments, each competitor is tasked with making four different craft cocktails as quickly as possible, receiving penalties from judges for various missteps, like missing ingredients or poorly executed garnishes. While Troxell loved the rush, there was another aspect of the event she enjoyed even more.

“I was hooked. This little competitive Scorpio was super into the competition side, but also the network of women that Speed Rack has created over the past nine seasons is incredible,” said Troxell. “That is what motivates me to keep coming back.”

After winning the regional competition in 2019, the season nine national competition was delayed for more than a year due to COVID-19. Not disheartened, Troxell patiently waited for her shot at the crown, which finally took place in September in New York City.

“I competed with 16 wonderful bartenders from all across the country,” said Troxell. “There’s nothing like working really hard for a goal for four years and then crushing it. Like, I’m still not sure I’ve fully unpacked all of those feelings.”

Sarah Troxell, The Toasted Coconut Beverage Director, was crowned Season 9 Speed Rack National Champion. (Gabi Porter)

Still high off the win and processing everything that came with her achievement, Troxell did know at least one thing for sure.

“I’m ready to make room for the next group of girls,” said Troxell. “They have changed my life, my career. I don’t plan on ever not being involved in Speed Rack in some way.”

Shaker & Spoon, a monthly cocktail subscription service, has partnered with Speed Rack on four limited-edition cocktail kits to help raise funds for the Pink Agenda in the fight against breast cancer. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Shaker & Spoon, a monthly cocktail subscription service, has partnered with Speed Rack on four limited-edition cocktail kits to help raise funds for The Pink Agenda in the fight against breast cancer. The kits, which include the Como La Mujer, a scotch-based tropical fruit cocktail with sweet and spicy notes, and the Citrus Paradisi, a refreshing effervescent vodka drink with hints of citrus and rose, were all created by Speed Rack alum. Each box includes special edition Speed Rack swag, and a portion of the sales are donated to The Pink Agenda.

For more information on the cocktail kits, click here. For more information on Speed Rack, click here.


About the Author:

Olivia Kolanek is the Features Producer of KPRC 2's Houston Life. She joined the KPRC family in the summer of 2019 after working in non-profit communications for three years. She is passionate about creating content that features good people, good food or a good story. Olivia is a University of Houston alumna, Audible junkie and scuba novice.