Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March Mix-Off - Illinois USBG

Last night, the Illinois chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild convened at Nacional 27 for our monthly meeting and cocktail mixing party. It was a great time, as always. Here are a few highlights and pictures.

USBG IL Updates

We (finally) got emails yesterday with the results of our Master Accreditation level one t
ests. We were the guinea pigs for this first-ever testing program for mixologists, intended to follow the Master Sommelier program.

About 25 of us too
k the test over two weeks ago, and afterward, everyone had many questions. There were some errors on the test itself, and some poorly worded questions - suffice to say, there were issues. Hopefully they sorted all that out before the next group took the test (in Las Vegas at the Bar Show). Luckily, I passed so I won't have to find out!

We covered some other upcomi
ng events, most notably the Illinois finals for the World Cocktail Competition is scheduled for March 31st at Boka. Should be another fun competition, and the winner goes to San Francisco to compete in the national competition.

This Month's Sponsor: Tru Organic Spirits
My friends Melkon K
hosrovian and his wife, Litty Mathew, make Tru Organic Spirits out in Los Angeles. They kindly sponsored this month's session, and Melkon brought along his organic vodkas & gin for us to taste and use. Melkon gave a brief presentation about their upcoming bitters challenge at Tales of the Cocktail this year, and also about their spirits.

Cocktail Competition
Our monthly competitions are typically not as rigorous as formal competitions, and this one was no exception. Most contestants were aiming for a pre-dinner drink, and brought along all their ingredients, per the instructions. But since we were working in his bar, Adam Seger also offered his full array of syrups, fruits and mixers, which is one heck of an offer.

The competitors included Adam Seger from Nacional 27, Benjamin Schiller from In Fine Spirits, Daniel de Oliveira from Boka, Cristi DeLucca from The Drawing Room, Chris Bloom, who is a member-at-large (and a lawyer by day), and Martin from Maxwell Street Trading.

This group came up with a wide array of cocktails and used a broad range of ingredients. Four used Tru Gin as their base, while two used the straight vodka. Only one used any egg, and three used Aperol, while one used miso and rice wine vinegar. Benjamin even created some homemade gelées with Aperol and Tru Gin, and a fun (and novel) presentation for his garnish (in picture at far right).

The winner, in a very close decision, was Chris Bloom. The judges said his drink had the edge based on aromatics. Congratulations to Chris!

Here's his recipe:

Puesta Del Sol, by Chris Bloom
1½ oz Tru Organic Vodka
¾ oz Aperol
¾ oz Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur
¾ oz Lime Juice
Orange Bitters (Regans)
Garnish: One blood orange slice, one long lemon curl and dried, grated Seville orange zest

Combine Vodka, Aperol, American Honey, Lime Juice and 3 dashes of orange bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with dried orange zest. Place Blood orange slice on top and twist lemon peel across glass.

Here was Chris's description of the drink: "Puesta del sol means sunset in Spanish (literally 'place the sun' - - as you place the orange slice to float on top of this drink). Hopefully it reminds you of a summer sunset on a beach relaxing at the end of a beautiful summer day."

Afterward, it was off to the Drawing Room for more cocktails and conversation. A blast, even if I did get home at 3:15 am (yawn).

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