Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Pour It On 

The bartenders of Put-in-Bay strive for Olympic glory.

At the Roundhouse in Put-in-Bay, Teri Winchester is like a dorm mother to the college coeds she hires as bartenders for the summer. She'll bake for them, give them extra shifts, and listen to their woeful tales of broken romance. So it's only fitting that, for the last 20 years, Winchester has marked the end of summer with the Bartender Olympics. "By mid-August, the kids are going on with the rest of their lives," says Winchester, the bar's manager. "They've become good friends, although they've been here for such a short time."

To commemorate the return to classes, five-member teams from nine island clubs put their bartending talents to the test. As in Olympian tradition, the events start with a "parade of bars" and the lighting of a torch -- made from an old satellite dish that's spray-painted gold and mounted on a beer keg. "It's like when you were little and went to camp, you always had an Olympic Day competition," says Winchester, one of the seven judges who own or manage the clubs. "Like the Olympics, there's no overall winner."

Still, the bar-to-bar rivalries can get pretty competitive. Before the contests begin, there's a written test on liquor laws, as well as an oral dissertation on "What Bartending Means to Me." Afterward, the barkeeps turn athletic to see who can roll a keg the fastest, pour a shot the most accurately, and carry the most beer cans at once. "We give out gold, silver, and bronze plaques, and they can take those back to their bars and put them on the wall," says Winchester. "Hopefully, everyone wins something."

If not, they can take home the memories of a friendly competition to cap off a summer of living and working on a Lake Erie island. "It's another way of keeping Put-in-Bay in a special place in their hearts," says Winchester. "It might have been one of my goofy ideas, but it's an effort for people to enjoy the island."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Cris Glaser

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation