Guest Judge Tony Bourdain warms up the audience at Castle before the Star of the Bar finals get under way.
Ready to Rock
Bourdain said he was happy to be back in Chicago.
Cue the Music
After Bourdain's opening remarks, the party got going again, with a live band and dancing.
Inside the Castle
A view across the cavernous second floor of the Castle, formerly Excalibur.
Drink of Choice
The competition's featured ingredient.
Star of the Bar finalists Art Tierce (left) and Steve Schneider hanging out before the finals began.
Everybody wanted a photo of Tony. Here he is after walking out to the judges' table.
Chino Lee was first up. His cocktail, the Blueberry Bramble, included vodka, blueberry pineapple shrub, crème de Yvette, lemon, and garnishes of sea salt and Thai basil.
Bourdain and Richman look on from the judges' table while sipping on Lee's Blueberry Bramble.
Named for the former Presidential candidate Howard Dean and his famous speech about crisscrossing the nation, Steve Schneider's entry included ingredients drawn from all over the U.S. (...plus one from Italy): American Harvest vodka, Campari, lime and grapefruit juice, and California agave nectar. In a final flourish, he bottled each drink, cap and all, to present to the judges. Schneider even handed them personalized bottle openers to crack open their cocktails.
Richman and fellow judge Tony Abou-Ganim.
Made for May
Third up, Art Tierce made a cocktail he dubbed May Flowers. It contains vodka, Barenjager, grapefruit and lemon juice, quince preserve, and Angostura Bitters. Tierce then topped each of the judge's cocktails with a fresh flower.
Awaiting the Results
The three competitors stood by for the announcement of the winner while the judges tabulated their scores. After double checking their math, the judges announced that, by a margin of just a couple of points, Schneider's cocktail was king.
As the crowd returned to the dance floor and thronged Bourdain for their chance to take a picture with him, Schneider posed for some victory photos with Abou-Ganim and NRA officials.