Iron (Bar) Chef America: Battle Mango

As we previously reported, the popular Food Network TV show “Iron Chef America” held their first challenge where mixologists were included on the teams in order to create drinks to pair with each course. Bridget Albert was the mixologist who assisted the challenger Chef Robert Gadsby, and Tony Abou-Ganim was teamed up with Iron Chef Mario Batali.

The Secret ingredient for the evening was “Mango”, and both teams worked feverishly to create not only the requisite five courses, but to create accompanying drinks as well. When all was said and done, the team of Mario/Tony were victorious.

Tony has been invovled in the bar business nearly his entire life, starting at the "Brass Rail Bar" in Port Huron Michigan. He eventually found himself in San Francisco, where he assisted with the opening of "Harry Denton’s". From there, he traveled to New York, where he first met up with Mario Batali at "Po". It was then back to San Francisco, and back again with Harry Denton, where he now helped open "Harry Denton’s Starlight Room" at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. By now, Tony was really making a name for himself, which got him noticed by Steve Wynn. It was 1998 and Mr. Wynn was getting ready to open up his newest Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the Bellagio, and he wanted Tony to create and manage the cocktail program that would be used at all of it’s 22 bars. Tony is credited with giving Las Vegas a wake-up call, and reminding it that in addition to the fine food they serve in their world-class restaurants, they should also be paying attention to making sure that they had a drink program to match. That challenge is still being fought, but great strides have been made in just a short time.

Today, Tony is working as a beverage consultant, which allows him to not only create cocktail programs for a variety of different venues, but also reach bartender around the world with his training and education programs. You can find out more about Tony at his website "The Modern Mixologist".

I asked Tony about his experience in being part of Iron Chef America, and here are some of his comments:

"Working alongside Mario Batali? What can I say the cat can throw down! What an honor for me!"

"Perhaps the most intense hour of my life, I thought the Martini-Bacardi World Finals were stressful but nothing prepared me for Iron Chef…It was a blast!"

"Bridget Albert was amazing, the consummate professional, her drinks were great, she made me very, very proud to share the stage with her!"

"After competing on Iron Chef America my advice to the future Iron Bar Chef competitors is to trust your instincts and your training but most of all have fun!"

He also shared with me the recipes that he prepared for this competition, here they are:

Aperitivo

  • 1 oz. Belvedere Pomarancza Vodka
  • 1 oz. Aperol Aperitivo
  • 1 oz. mango puree
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. D’arbo Elderflower syrup

Frozen mango fan on cocktail glass

 

Sgroppino

  • Mango, lime, Campari sorbet
  • Prosecco or Asti
  • Tip of mint

Chilled Champagne flute or small white wine glass

 

Sparkling Mango-Strawberry Sangria

  • Prosecco or Champagne
  • Cointreau
  • Finlandia Lime Vodka
  • Fresh mango & strawberry puree
  • Fresh orange juice
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Simple syrup (mint infused)
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Mango diamond chunks, strawberries, apple slices, orange & lemon slices, mint sprig

Large Boudreaux glass with ice

 

Tiki (A little fun Trader Vic kind of drink/Polynesian Style)

  • 1 oz. 10 Cane rum
  • 1 oz. Appleton rum
  • ½ oz. Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 oz. mango puree
  • 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. fresh orange
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. ginger syrup (optional)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • ½ oz. Pomegranate syrup
  • Fresh grated nutmeg

Mango & brandied cherry shish ka bob (pineapple sticks, spent lime half)

Fun, ceramic Tiki bowl

 

Smash

  • 10-12 spearmint leaves
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice (lemon)
  • 1 oz. honey syrup
  • 1 oz. mango puree
  • 1 ½ oz. Old Forester Bourbon (Maker’s Mark)

Mango stars, mint sprig & floating lime wheels

 

Mango Eau de Vie

A shot of chilled homemade mango eau de vie (distilled on stage) served in a frozen glass.

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