Suits & Sazeracs: Philly's Top Bartenders Compete for a Cause at Hotel Palomar's Burnham Ballroom

Marilyn Johnson

Suits & Sazeracs, the spirited cocktail competition and charitable fundraiser benefiting local nonprofit The Wardrobe (formerly The Career Wardrobe), is returning after a pandemic pause. The event, presented in collaboration between Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants and award-winning local distillery Bluebird Distilling, takes place inside the Burnham Ballroom at the Hotel Palomar on Monday, March 6, from 6–9 pm. Guests are invited to get gussied up for the storied soiree that sees Philly’s top bar talent go head to head – with $1.5K in cash prizes – for an exciting cocktail competition judged by industry experts AND attendees.
Suits & Sazeracs Cocktail Competition for a Cause will occur on Monday, March 6, at Hotel Palomar's Burnham Ballroom.Photo bySuits & Sazeracs

During Suits & Sazeracs, the New Orleans-inspired evening designed by acclaimed local event architects Lucky Dog Studio, guests will sample Sazeracs crafted by eight of Philadelphia’s top bartenders, all made using Bluebird Distilling’s Straight Rye Whiskey and nosh on fare provided by Square 1682’s Executive Chef Ronde Murphy (think: Shrimp and Grits Fritters, Drunken Grilled Haloumi, Baked Oysters Rockefeller) while a live NOLA-style jazz band keeps things swinging! Additional evening highlights include a Silent Auction, a live oversized check presentation to The Wardrobe, and a Best Dressed Guest Award.

“We are thrilled to bring this much-anticipated event back after its success is 2020!” said Henry A. Davidsen President and Founder Brian Lipstein. “At the last event, we raised almost $7,000, and this year, our goal is to raise over $10,000 and to garner over 10,000 gently used professional wear items for The Wardrobe.”

The panel of cocktail judges features special guest Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze, home bar expert and recent contestant on Netflix’s Drink Masters. Judges will honor one bartender with $1,000 for the superior Sazerac. At the same time, attendees will vote for People’s Choice (who will be awarded $500). Plus, attendees can “buy” additional votes, with 100% of those proceeds benefiting The Wardrobe.

Bartenders competing in the 3rd Annual Suits & Sazeracs include: 

  • The Hayes: Bohdan Darway, Lead Bartender 
  • The Plough & The Stars: Ed Novitski, Bartender 
  • The Twisted Tail: Kristen Lamb, Bartender 
  • Red Owl Tavern: Chris Devern, Lead Bartender 
  • Rex at The Royal: Joshua Scheid, Beverage Manager 
  • Royal Boucherie: Eden Beschen, Bar Manager 
  • Stratus Rooftop Lounge: Patrick Banko, Lead Bartender
  • Square 1682: Alex Clark, Lead Bartender 

“We’re thrilled to be back in the Burnham Ballroom at Hotel Palomar, celebrating Philadelphia’s top cocktail talent with this competition,” said Jared Adkins, Founder of Bluebird Distilling. “We can’t wait to see the creative cocktail creations the bartenders whip up using our American Straight Rye Whiskey and how much money we can raise for such a worthy cause. Let the good times roll!”

Guests can also get in on the prizes, with the Best Dressed Guest Award judged by Columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Elizabeth Wellington, and noted menswear and lifestyle influencer Sabir Peele. Guests are encouraged to dress to the glitzy New Orleans theme, wearing Southern ensembles boasting bright colors, pastels, or bold stripes. Fedoras, bow ties, suspenders, pocket squares, or Southern Belle-esque gowns! 

In addition to a bevy of Sazeracs, there will be low-ABV beer courtesy of custom contract brewing company My Local Brew Works and (zero-proof) kombucha from beloved local brand Baba’s Bucha.

Tickets for Suits & Sazeracs are available online for $75/person, with a portion of ticket proceeds benefiting The Wardrobe. Suits & Sazeracs marks the start of Henry A. Davidsen’s 5th annual Suit Drive, in which professional clothing donations will be accepted at drop-off points across the Greater Philadelphia Area, running from March 6 to May 15. Philadelphians interested in donating gently-used suits, ties, jackets, shirts, pants, belts, shoes, and other professional and semi-professional attire supporting local unemployed individuals can find more information here.

Throughout the evening of Sazerac sampling, NOLA-influenced passed appetizers will be prepared by Executive Chef Ronde Murphy of Square 1682. See menu offerings below:

Passed Appetizers

  • Shrimp and Grits Fritters, Wild Berry Compote
  • Drunken Grilled Haloumi
  • Baked Oysters Rockefeller 
  • Andouille Corndogs
  • Beignets

Stationary Offerings

  • Fried Green Tomatoes with Cajun Aioli
  • Fried Oreos and Snickers
  • Seitan Jambalaya

Marilyn Johnson is a freelance food and travel writer covering the food and drink scene of Philadelphia, South Jersey food, the greater Mid-Atlantic area, and beyond. Email Marilyn at with food and travel news. If you liked this article, throw Marilyn a coffee! Follow Marilyn on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

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Marilyn Johnson is a Philadelphia area-based food and travel writer focusing on food & drink in the Mid-Atlantic region. Email for Philly area news; for travel tips and opportunities.

Philadelphia, PA

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