Ah competition, thrills in the air, the excitement of seeing just who is the best. Or in my case being a jackass and trying to show what Tiki can do to the public at large. Yes yours truly entered GQ’s “Most Imaginative Bartender” contest when it came to Birmingham in July. I wasn’t as fast or quite as polished as my fellow competitors who have a lot more bartending experience than myself. However I think the cocktail we presented was very fine even if it was a bit tongue and cheek.Bartending contests, especially those with I.B.A rules, are rarely about who has the best drink or who is the most creative. This isn’t sour grapes on my part, I make drinks based on my own nerdy obsession not for contest rules. I never expected to win I only entered to put Tiki on stage, and make some tasty drinks for my friends and neighbors. However contests like this tend to focus on arcane rules, the use of forceps, and small technical flourishes that don’t really add to the flavor of the drink. Still if you don’t want to play by the rules you shouldn’t play the game should you? Everyone made delicious cocktails, and I learned a lot by watching the polished, experienced, bartenders competing around me. Jessica Wyrick -a former Birmingham bartender now working and living in Tennessee- won with a bang up presentation and a tasty cocktail. We wish her the best of luck in Vegas, she worked hard to win.
Originally I wasn’t going to enter, but I was going to play my way through the bottle of Bombay East they gave me at the USBG meeting. I began making Pink Gin’s and watching a Vincent Price in The Story of Mankind when I began reading something David Wondrich wrote about the Pink Gin. “To be a truly insufferable twit, step up to the bar and loudly order a Gin Pahit (“pa-heet,” that being the Malay word for “bitter”)”- Dave Wondrich. The line was a scream and made me think about Joe Scialom’s Suffering Bastard and how great a name it was. We use a lot of Gin in the recipe, comically this was because in a former contest someone complained they couldn’t taste enough of the sponsored whiskey. Other flavorings were added to complement the gin as well as make it truly pinkish instead of walnut brown. Funnier still I never used Sapphire in the cocktail until it was time to compete. Before that it had been all Sapphire East and Beefeater gin.
2 ½ oz Bombay East
¾ oz hibiscus grenadine
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz fresh pineapple juice
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake aggressively with ice and pour into a pilsner glass. Then use a nice bushy spring of mint to garnish the top.
Crisp notes of juniper, earth, and mint greet the nose and meld into aromas of pineapple, tea, and pomegranate. Let no one say you can’t taste the gin, though the drink is boozy it retains balance. Hibiscus and sweet grenadine marry with lemon for a welcome greeting and rush into a party of juniper and lime. Bitter notes of Angostura then jump into the car with pineapple and ride away into the sunset for a refreshingly crisp gin finish. This is a great hot day drink for lovers of that herbal booze not seen often enough in classic Tiki.
Whelp that is my little entry, it got rave reviews for taste which is a win in my book. Moreso than that I got to spend the day with my USBG brothers and sisters learning and having a great time. I highly recommend giving competition a try. Win or lose you may still come up with a sip you can serve with a smile. Until next time…
“You get Hammered America!” – JFL