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Get to know the Cocktail Classic judges

NewBo City Market, Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, and Rapids Wholesale Equipment Present The 2021 NewBo Cocktail Classic– An al fresco cocktail experience in the Market Yard.

The best and most creative cocktail bars and restaurants in Cedar Rapids have been invited to participate in the Annual Cocktail Classic. This year, all of the cocktails will be crafted from Cedar Ridge's award-winning Iowa Bourbon Whiskey.

On Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 at 7p.m., NewBo City Market's yard will be transformed into a socially-distant cocktail party under the stars with Cedar Rapids' finest bartenders showcasing their best bourbon-based creations. Featuring a panel of 'celebrity' judges to name the "Cocktail Classic Champion."

Let's learn a little more about these judges before the big night.

Taisun Maddigan

Taisun has been the sales director of Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery for four years. This will be her first time judging at the Cocktail Classic.

"Currently my favorite cocktail made with Cedar Ridge Bourbon is a new addition to our signature cocktail list onsite at the distillery," she said. "It's called Ocean Eyes."

Taisun said she travels a lot for her job and tries cocktails from all over the country.

"I think friendly competitions like this showcase the great talent we have right here," she said, about judging. "This will be my third year attending and I'm excited to see how the creative aspect has expanded from previous years."

Eric Schmitt

Eric will be representing Rapids Wholesale, one of the sponsors for this year's event. He has served as the company's Vice President for eight years.

"I grew up the majority of my life in Cedar Rapids, attending St. Pius and then Xavier during my time here. I moved away for college and went to the University of St. Thomas to play soccer and get my degree in Finance," he said. "During college I met my wife Stacey and we lived up there a total of 12 years before moving back to Cedar Rapids to become an owner of my family business. Cedar Rapids has seen more than its fair share of adversity through the years and every single time the entire community has picked itself up by the bootstraps to carry on. There is something incredibly admirable about a city and community that is personally accountable for its success in the way that Cedar Rapids has been. This drive has seen it not just recover but be reborn each time it has overcome a challenge as a better version of itself."

Eric said he typically likes his bourbon neat, but is excited to see what the competitors come up with.

"This pandemic has saved me a great deal of money on vacations. I took those savings and put them into my budget for To-Go cocktails from restaurants in our community," he said. "This enabled me to become perhaps the largest single buyer of to-go drinks in Cedar Rapids and really get a good feel for what is good and what needs some work. Fortunately, I haven’t found anything that needs much work."

Steve Shriver

Local celebrity Steve Shriver is known for his entrepreneurial efforts and his love for this community.

"I’m Iowa born and raised and was seeking to land in a community where I could grow and create positive change," he said. "I followed my heart to Cedar Rapids and have enjoyed seeing our community develop in the last 25 years. My favorite part of our community IS the community."

Steve said he is qualified to judge at the Cocktail Classic because he has tasted bourbon in a dozen countries. His favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned. "My grandpa used to drink them and I was always curious why," he said. "Now I know."

Scott Kruger

Scott is NewBo City Market's Executive Director. He grew up on the west side of Cedar Rapids and said that somethimg always seems to draw him back to Eastern Iowa.

"There is a strong history of creativity and entrepreneurship in our community," he said about Cedar Rapids. "It is exciting to see the success of businesses like Cedar Ridge and Lion Bridge become just as well known for their products as Collins is for making equipment for the Space Shuttle and Quaker is for the Crunch Berries."

Scott also likes to drink his bourbon neat.

"Bourbon has a complexity that is fun to rediscover every time you take a sip," he said. "I am excited to judge cocktails for how the build upon the aroma and taste of the bourbon."

You be the judge!

Guests will also be given the opportunity to vote for "The People's Choice" cocktail.

Enjoy craft cocktail samples, a delicious meal from local food trucks, and excellent live, local music by Alicia Monee & Invisible Jazz.

Proceeds from The 2021 NewBo Cocktail Classic benefit NewBo City market's mission to support local entrepreneurs as they grow new food and retail businesses and to provide a place for arts, culture, and entertainment for the entire community to enjoy.

A limited number of tickets are available so get yours today!

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