Last week I helped judge the Bombay Sapphire/GQ Magazine Most Inspired Bartender Competition in Las Vegas.
In the first round (that I did not judge), 46 bartenders from the US and Canada were judged on a single drink in shifts. From these, the top ten were chosen to compete onstage at the XS nightclub at the Wynn Las Vegas.
The challenge for the top ten bartenders was a mystery ingredient contest- bartenders had 12 minutes to come up with a cocktail using the mystery ingredient before presenting it on stage. The ingredient in this case was Bombay Sapphire East, the newly-launched brand extension with lemongrass and black pepper added to the botanical mix. Furthermore, the resulting cocktail was supposed to represent their home city in some way.
The top ten bartenders were:
- David Delaney - Boston
- David Wolowidnyk - Vancouver
- Luke Edson - Omaha
- Matt Young - Milwaukee
- Mia Sarazen - Los Angeles
- Chris Simmons - San Diego
- Adam Rose - Austin
The top three were:
Second Runner-Up: Brandon Clements of Spruce in San Francisco.
Naturally, Brandon used Fernet-Branca in his San Francisco-inspired cocktail. He also used Bombay Sapphire East, maraschino liqueur, Benedictine, Regan's Orange Bitters, and sage leaves. It was garnished with orange and grapefruit twists with a sage leaf. It was a nice classic-style cocktail freshened up with sage.
First Runner-Up: Scott Mayer of Sra. Martinez in Miami.
Scott made a variation of a Negroni using Bombay Sapphire East, Cocchi Americano, Aperol, and a tincture of black pepper, grapefruit, tarragon, blueberry bitters, and lemongrass. It was served up with a grapefruit peel. It was pleasantly syrupy and bitter, just like the drink it is based on. The tincture (made within the twelve minutes) was a nice touch.
Winner of the 2011 Bombay Sapphire and GQ Magazine Most Inspired Bartender Contest: Bryan Dayton of Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth.
Bryan's cocktail was fresh and delicious, used the orchard fruit and berries of Colorado, had a freshly-made sage simple syrup, and added Chartreuse that brought all of the elements together and gave it extra depth. Bryan did everything right and his drink was the clear winner.
Here is the recipe - probably not the official version that will be announced later, but should be pretty close:
East Collegiate Peaks
by Bryan Dayton
2 ounces Bombay Sapphire East
.25 ounces Yellow Chartreuse
.5 ounces Fresh Lime Juice
.25 ounces Sage Simple Syrup
1 ounce Pear Juice
Shake and serve up.
Congratulations to Bryan, the runners-up, the top ten, and everyone who made it into the competition!