Meet Your Final Two Regional Speed Rack Winners

Clairessa Chaput
With the last round of regional competitions finished, eight victors will face off at the national Speed Rack in May. Pictured here: Clairessa Chaput, newly crowned Miss Speed Rack Northeast. (Photo: Natasha Moustache)

The times are all in, the buzzers have gone off, and all eight regional Season Six Speed Rack champions have been crowned. #BacktheRack continues on May 21st in New York City for the national competition, where the country’s eight fastest women face off for the national title. We've met the speed queens who emerged victorious in the California, Texas, and Southeast regionals, as well as the victors from the Midwest, Northwest and New York. Now, it’s an honor to introduce Miss Speed Rack Northeast and Miss Speed Rack Southwest:

Clairessa Chaput Clairessa Chaput has worked in the service industry since her teenage years. Now, she can be found behind the bar at two Boston-area bars and also works as an Angel's Envy Whiskey Guardian. (Photo: Natasha Moustache)

Miss Speed Rack Northeast: Clairessa Chaput – Highball Lounge (Boston, Mass.) and Central Kitchen (Cambridge, Mass.)

Clairessa Chaput, 33, has been bartending for 12 years, working in Boston for the last 11.

“I started in the industry at 16 as a hostess in a diner and never looked back,” Chaput said.

“Our work is fast paced, I love being around people and meeting new people, and it’s consistent stability when you’re good at it. I’ve never feared for my job,” she said.

Currently at Highball Lounge, known for its laid back vibe, quirky garnishes and frequent displays of pyrotechnics, and Central Kitchen, Cambridge’s Central Square’s hub for rustic and hearty cooking, Chaput also recently became a Whiskey Guardian with Angel’s Envy.

This is Chaput’s second time competing in Speed Rack – she competed in Season Five but did not make it to the stage for Top 8.

Like many of Season Six’s winners, Chaput is a firm believer in the power of the daiquiri as an introduction to classic cocktails: “People still think ‘frozen sugar bomb’ and I love surprising them.” For something stirred and spirit forward, she recommends a Boulevardier or 1794.

In her down time Chaput is an avid bike rider (New England weather permitting), and an indie film devotee.

Perhaps most importantly, when she’s out for the night, Chaput’s go-to is the beloved shot and beer combo, usually “tequila and cheap beer.”

Alex Jump Alex Jump of Denver, Colorado worked in a Florence wine bar while studying abroad during college. She's been passionate about bartending ever since. (Photo: Kevin Galaba)

Miss Speed Rack Southwest: Alex Jump – RiNo Yacht Club (Denver, Colo.)

Alex Jump, 25, started her bartending career four years ago in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I started working in restaurants in college and got interested in food and cocktails studying abroad in Florence, where I worked behind a wine bar,” Jump said. “When I came home I was determined to have somebody teach me to bartend,” she said.

That somebody was Casey Sullivan at Elemental (now closed), who mentored her behind the bar through the Chattanooga restaurant scene until Jump moved to Denver two months ago, finding a place behind the bar of the RiNo Yacht Club.

“When I got behind the bar I realized this was something I was truly passionate about,” Jump recalls. “I went to school for religious studies, and I loved studying religion and anthropology through religion, but bartending went beyond what I enjoyed studying, and was something I was good at.”

“I’ve never had that feeling before, that I can do this,” she said.

Jump also competed in Speed Rack last year, where she made the top eight but was knocked out in her first round.

“That gave me the determination to win,” she said.

Jump likes to recommend Old Fashioneds because of the cocktail’s “two lives” – the old Old Fashioned of bitters, sugar and spirit, and the muddled fruit incarnation of the drink – as well as daiquiris.

It’s a shot and a beer for Jump at the end of the night or on her day off, as well; she pairs her cheap beer with an amaro.

In her off time Jump keeps up with her yoga, she’s been practicing 11 years, and spends time with her dog, Julep.

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