Tales of the Cocktail: Spirit Awards and Bar Chef Challenge

 For five years now, our good friend Ann Rogers has been mustering the troops and organizing one of the nations most important gathering of mixologists down in New Orleans for the annual "Tales of the Cocktail" event.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of this event, and several new and notable additions to the event were made, ones which we hope will become a regular part of the weeks festivities.

The Spirit Awards represents the culmination of a world-wide search for the best and most noteworthy contribution in several different categories. Providing well-earned recognition for those people and establishments who have worked hard at supporting and progressing the world of cocktails.

The Bar Chef Challenge was a fun, entertaining, and inspiring event which pitted several of the nations best bartenders against one another in a timed challenge to create unique cocktails based on a secret ingredient. The challenge was Emceed by Dale DeGroff, Kevin Brauch, and Lorin Gaudin.

 


The Spirit Awards

Here are the details of the winners at this years Spirit Awards

Award

Winner
Best Drinks Selection: Zig Zag Cafe (Seattle, WA)
Best Classic Cocktail Bar: Zig Zag Cafe (Seattle, WA)
World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Pegu Club (New York, NY)
Best New Cocktail Bar: Bourbon & Branch (San Francisco)
Mixologist/Bartender of the Year: Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club (New York, NY)
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics” by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz
Best New Product: St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Best Cocktail Menu: Papparazzi, Bratislava
Best Drinks Brand Representative / Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin

 


Bar Chef Challenge

At this years Bar Chef Challenge, six competitors challenged themselves as well as each other to create two original drinks based on the chosen secret ingredient: Orgeat.

The competitors were: Chris McMillian,(Library Bar at Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans)  H. Ehrmann, (Elixir, San Francisco)  Tad Carducci, (Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster NJ) Lu Brow, (Swizzle Stick Bar at Cafe Adelaide, New Orleans)  Todd Thrasher, (Restaurant Eve, Washington D.C. Bartender) and Bridget Albert (Southern Wine and Spirits of Illinois).

Judging this event were: Tony Abou-Ganim, “The Modern Mixologist,” Kate Krader, Senior Features Editor of Food&Wine , Ted Allen, star of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” Per Hamansson, sensory analyst for V&S Spirits and Francesco LaFranconi, director of mixology and spirits educator for Southern Wine and Spirits.

At the conclusion of the tense competition, the winner was announced as being Bridget Albert. Here are the recipes that she prepared:

Winning Recipes by Bridget Albert

Hope Floats

  • 1 oz Cruzan Vanilla Rum
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz Cherry Herring Liqueur
  • 2 diced strawberries
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup

In mixing glass muddle strawberries, cinnamon, lemon juice, and Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup.  Add Cruzan Vanilla Rum, Grand Marnier and Cherry Herring.  SHAKE HARD! Strain over crushed ice filled cocktail glass. Top with dollop of Orange Flower Water flavored whip cream.*

* In a cold metal bowl, whisk 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 3 oz Orange Flower Water,  and 4 oz Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup

99˚ In The Shade

  • 2 oz Absolut New Orleans
  • 3 spoonfuls ginger mango compote*
  • Splash of fresh lemon juice
  • Splash of Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup
  • Egg white
  • Champagne

In your mixing glass muddle Absolut New Orleans, lemon juice, ginger mango compote, and Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup. Add egg white.  SHAKE HARD!  Add 1/2 oz of champagne.  Rock gently.  Strain into a champagne glass rimmed with smoked salt, super fine sugar, and black pepper.  Garnish with a burnt lemon.

* Ginger Mango Compote:
In a pan add 6 mango cubes, 2 ginger slices, 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice, 3 oz Fee Brothers Orgeat Syrup.  Let simmer for 15 minutes on High.  Pepper to taste.  Set aside to cool.

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