dee downtown 072514 2Downtown bartender Dee with some of his output, including a blackbery cosmo, below.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

downtown cocktail 072514 2To watch the one-named bartender Dee when the drink orders are coming in at Red Bank’s Downtown is to a witness unflappability amid a blur of glasses, garnishes, bottles and stainless-steel shakers.

“I have to be very quick,” Dee tells PieHole while rapidly muddling ingredients for a cucumber vodka mojito. Over 10 years of mixing and pouring, “I’ve developed speed,” says Dee. “Not every bartender likes to muddle, but I love the labor of this job.”

Starting August 10, the restaurant promotion group Red Bank Flavour plans to spotlight the town’s watering holes and the bartenders who keep their libations flowing with the first-ever Red Bank Cocktail Week.

The weeklong happy hour of sorts is slated kick off at red Restaurant & Lounge and conclude with the next edition of Food & Wine Walk on Sunday, August 17.

Among the events scheduled:

• A ‘bartender mix-off’ to benefit the Red Bank social services agency Lunch Break, sponsored by Laird’s Applejack at Taste

• A Tito’s Handmade Vodka infusion class at Pazzo

• Whiskey Wednesday festivities at the Downtown

• A townwide celebration of National Rum Day

• A bevy of happy-hour specials.

Restaurants and sweet shops are joining in on the fun, offering mock-tails, pairing menus and liquor-infused desserts throughout the week.

The aim is to “celebrate the talented mixologists, bartenders and chefs who make Red Bank such a diverse culinary destination,” says George Lyristis, owner of Teak Restaurant and the Bistro at Red Bank, who calls the town “a premier destination for beverage enthusiasts and epicureans.”

With fine wines, eclectic muddled creations, classes and competitions, “cocktail connoisseurs will have several opportunities to experience all of Red Bank’s flavors throughout the week,” he says.

A still-evolving list of participating venues includes Bistro, Char, Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar, Dish, the Downtown, the Dublin House, Flipping Fun, Front Street Trattoria, Lil’ Cutie Pops, the Melting Pot, Pazzo, red, Siam Garden, Sugarush, Taste, Teak, the Wine Cellar and Whipped Bites.

Tickets for the kick-off and additional mixology classes will be available for purchase beginning August 1. For more information about the Red Bank Cocktail Week or for additional information about Red Bank Flavour, click here.

Here’s the map of participating bars and restaurants: