When I want a drink, I just pop a cork...
Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 8:56AM
Tom Firth

I am not a big cocktail person, but when I was asked to judge the 2013 Alberta Cocktail Challenge, I figured hell, why not?

The challenge would involve 3 heats of four bartenders making a “Winter Warmer” and another three heats of “Soda-licious”. The top bartenders from these heats would go onto the finals, the “Black Box “.  The bartenders were from Edmonton, Banff, and yes, Calgary. The cocktail meccas were such places as Anejo, Candella, Charcut, Cube, Raw Bar, Milk Tiger, National, Edmonton’s the Manor, and Three Boars, and finally, the Balkan in Banff.

Winter Warmers were either hot or cold but should be suited to the season, while Soda-licious had to be soda based. The bartenders had a range of products that had to be included, but that in no way stifled their creativity.  Most drinks were very good to excellent, but at the end of the day The Manor’s Tarquin Melnyk nailed the challenge and went away with the prize.

Here are my favourite drinks of the night from the winter warmer  and soda-licious categories.

Stephen Stewart from Milk Tiger with his soda-licious offering,

Fentiman’s not so hard Lemonade

1.5oz Appleton Estate Rum
0.5oz Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
0.25oz St Germaine Elderflower Liquer
1oz Rooibos saffron syrup
Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
3oz Fentimans Rose Lemonade

In a Collins glass, combine all ingredients except lemonade into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Fine strain into glass over fresh ice. Top with lemonade. Garnish with lemon wheel.

 Tarquin Melnyk blew away the judges with this Winter Warmer

Norfolk Flip

1oz Applton Reserve Rum
1oz Alianca Brandy
0.5oz Baileys Irish Cream
1oz clove spiced syrup
1 whole egg
1 ice globe
1 dash Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
Garnished with burnt cinnamon and nutmeg blend

Syrup is prepared with 6:4 Demerara sugar:water, healthy amount of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg is steeped in.  Two whole star anise add a hint of flavour as well.

All ingredients are put into a shaker, dry shaken, followed by a vigorous wet shake. Double strained over an ice globe into a rocks glass. Freshly ground nutmeg is sprinkled on top, followed by flamed fresh ground cinnamon.

If you’d like to know more about the competition or the cocktails, check out google. Everything is there. But a number of publications such as Culinaire Magazine has features on this event.

Article originally appeared on Cowtown Wine (http://cowtownwine.com/).
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