Tonight I helped judge another cocktail contest, this one for Lotus Vodka. This brand is based in San Francisco and has distribution only in Northern California (though they're expanding soon), yet is in 500 venues in the region. 500! I doubt there is any other spirit brand in the nation with that kind of track record, so whatever they're doing, they're doing it right.
This one was done secret ingredient style, a la Top Chef. In the first round all eight contestants had half an hour to make a drink with nectarines. (That's my favorite cocktail fruit that I muddle into drinks at home all the time, FYI. Keep that in mind for the next contest.) Each person had to make one drink to present to us. From those drinks we picked three finalists- Ronaldo Colli from Americano, Josh Harris from Pier 23, and Cody Robertson from Lingba Lounge.
For the second round, the secret ingredient was peppers- a variety of them. The three finalists each made a tall drink on the rocks and an up drink. Ronaldo Colli made two drinks that were very good, whereas the other two contestants each made one drink that was extraordinary and another drink that was... not so good.
The third place winner (Josh Harris) was only two points out of 400 away from our second place winner (Cody Robertson), so it was more of a tie. This means Ronaldo Colli took home yet another trophy from another cocktail contest! Dude wins these things constantly and deservedly. Congratulations to Ronaldo and thanks to all the contestants for filling my social calendar with night after night of delicious drinks.
More pics here.