Three winners from the San Antonio Cocktail Conference
Published: February 15, 2012
The first annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference has come and gone, the shaking and stirring have subsided — along with the odd hangover. The ripples, however, are now expanding from the conference's downtown epicenter. By all accounts, the event was a rousing success and put our fair city in a very favorable light, though we do have a little work to do if the following observation by a New York bartender can be taken as typical: "You guys are almost obnoxiously polite!" (We'll do better next time. Promise.)
Among the many events, a personal favorite was the cocktail competition — largely because I was on the judging, not competing, end. If I remember correctly, we judged 30-some creations blind. Contestants provided one presentation drink for visual evaluation; judges were given small samples for taste consideration. As is often the case in real-world contests, the winners were those who went for balance and finesse, not the ones who tried too hard with overdone rose water or bushels of finely chopped fruits. If you'd like to practice up for next year with the $2,500 first-place prize in mind, you should investigate the three winners presented here. Some sourcing will be required, but reasonable substitutes are a part of the creative process.
1. Have a Heart
(John Lermayer, The Florida Room, Miami)
1 oz. Brugal 1888 (a reserve Dominican rum)
1 oz. Plantation 5 year (a Barbados rum from Pierre Ferrand's Caribbean series)
½ oz. Licor 43 (vanilla flavored)
½ oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. pineapple juice, fresh preferred
4 dashes black walnut bitters (try kegworks.com)
Shake well with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with grated nutmeg (go easy here).
2. Linda Rose
(Jake Corney, Bohanan's Bar, San Antonio)
1 oz. Beefeater 24 Gin (or any London dry)
½ oz. Carpano Antica vermouth (worth seeking out)
½ oz. Campari
¼ oz. honey syrup (dilute honey with equal parts warm water)
¼ oz. lime juice, very fresh
Shake well with ice, strain into a flute, top with brut champagne and a lemon disc.
3. The Protestant
(submitted by Charles Shelton, Austin)
1 ¼ oz. Sazerac Rye (Old Overholt also OK)
1 ¼ oz. Hendrick's Gin (try not to substitute)
½ oz. Carpano Antica vermouth
½ oz. simple syrup
4 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Crème d'Yvette (or Crème de Violette)
Rinse a rocks glass with Crème d'Yvette, discarding excess. Chill glass. Shake all other ingredients together with ice, strain into chilled glass. Cut a swath of orange rind, twist over glass and flame it, wiping the rim with the flamed rind.
Remember: practice, practice, practice. •