The predictable heat of New Orleans was upon me. Ducking into Arnaud’s French 75 gave me a quick and welcome reprieve. I was to meet with Bacardi USA Senior Brand Manager Cherie Koster and Zac Rivera from Maloney and Fox, to discuss ideas for the iconic brand, Drambuie. With that in mind, I brought along a trio of expert mixologists with me: Brittany Chardin, Greg Best, and Miles Macquarrie. The discussion centered on ways to get the younger drinkers – some say Generation X; I’m not sure, they’re just younger – to enjoy Drambuie. For some reason, this group of drinkers has not figured out this liqueur. Blasphemy! It seems the Rusty Nail is still the favorite cocktail in which to enjoy this elixir. Greg’s mind was racing…off to the bar he goes to have a discussion with the bartender. After a short conference, he returns and the barkeep shows up with the professionally-made cocktail. Sip. “Very nice; what is it?”
“A KILTED PISTILLERO,” he announces.
1½ oz Blanco Tequila 100% Agave
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz Drambuie
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist garnish
Meanwhile, Miles, not to be outdone, was working on what is a bit of a riff on a Rusty Nail. Again, the impeccably dressed female bartender shows up with another creation. Sip. “Very nice; what is it?”
“I don’t have a name yet…”
1½ oz Dewar’s blended scotch
1 oz Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
½ oz Drambuie
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash absinthe
Lemon twist garnish
My partner Brittany and I looked at each other and she proclaimed, “We’re gonna need a name for this!” Confident we’d had a good meeting, we toasted with an “Auld Alliance” and said our goodbyes.
1 part Drambuie
3 parts Champagne
As we stepped out into the familiar thick air, I asked Brittany, “Why do they call it an Auld Alliance?” I wish I hadn’t; the answer is so simple – to her.
The week begins…
A Promenade of Jubilation
Milagro Tequila and the USBG combine for the soirée of the week! in the Mix magazine was proud to be the Media Sponsor of the USBG / Milagro Tequila Margarita Competition at the recent Tales of the Cocktail. As Ann Tuennerman kicked off the event at the Board of Trade, a beautiful rotunda-style room with a courtyard of flowers and fountains, the crowd came alive. Hundreds of patrons were present to taste margaritas created by 15 renowned mixologists from 15 different cities, each with a unique variation of the famous cocktail.
Starting from left: 1) Abigail Gullo and Daniel Schneeweiss. 2) Left to right: David Nepove, VP of the US Bartenders Guild, Mike Raven, Managing Editor of in the Mix, winner Patricia Richards of the Las Vegas Chapter, People’s Choice Award winner Abigail Gullo of the NY Chapter and Milagro’s Daniel Schneeweiss. 3) F. Paul Pacult teaching a class on tasting principles. Some key points; taste at the same time of the day when possible, he does it first thing in the morning; build a library of senses in your head; taste no more than 10 items in a sitting 4) Anthony Dias Blue enjoying a taste at the DIAGEO Happy Hour
Milagro cast a tequila aura onto the crowd, complete with a live demonstration of a jimador harvesting the piña from an adult agave plant. Charlotte Voisey of William Grant & Sons was offeringguests samples of a specially blended Milagro made exclusively for the function, which was 50% Milagro Core Silver, 30% Milagro Select Barrel Reposado, and 20% Milagro Core Anejo. Simply put, it was delicious! The blend gave it complexity along with a silky soft finish. It was a treat to sample.
As the time to start judging drew closer, Gaston Martinez, Tequila Ambassador for Milagro, got the judges together for some preparation. The group of judges included me, David Nepove, the Vice President of the United States Bartenders Guild, and Daniel Schneeweiss, Milagro’s Creative Development Chief. We were briefed along with Anthony Alba, Las Vegas mixologist extraordinaire,who was to be our liaison and escort for the evening. He was invaluable to us, navigating the room with professional ease.
After 15 tables, 15 margaritas, 15 incredible stories, and what seemed like 15 hours…we had a winner! We unanimously chose Patricia Richards of the Las Vegas Chapter and her margarita, the Fiesta Fatale. Her table presentation and unique margarita were stupendous! The flavor of the Milagro was not masked but complemented with just the right amount of ingredients. The combination of the Clement Creole and passion fruit fit perfectly with the base ingredients. It was all topped with a passion fruit espuma. Muy excelente!!!
From left to right: 1) Ann and Paul Tuennerman kicking of the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail with a toast 2) Chef Fred Genovese, Charlotte Voisey, Tony Abou-Ganim and host Kevin Jenkins having some spirited fun on the Chef and the Fat Man radio show held in the Carousel Bar 3) Eben Freeman making molecular cocktails at the Diageo Happy Hour 4) (8) David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff and Doug Frost announce the winner of the [yellowtail]® wine [tail]™ competition, Ted Kilgore, who won a all expenses trip to Australia!
After the competition, I asked Patricia about the drink. “Fiesta Fatale – great name, great cocktail. Tell us about it. What inspired the recipe; what makes it so special?”
She replied, “The rules of the competition state to create a twist on the classic margarita, but to tie your recipe and idea into the region you are from, ‘showcasing the spirit of your city and cocktail culture in your recipe’. Fiesta Fatale, which translates as either a dangerous or even fatal party – think partying in Vegas -, is actually the name of a show that is projected on the Lake of Dreams here at Wynn. There is a beautiful dancer in this Latin-themed show. Also, since Milagro is from Jalisco, Mexico, I wanted to reflect this Latin element in my dress, makeup, and hair.”
Patricia went on to say, “Since the world comes to visit us at Wynn, Las Vegas, my recipe contains ingredients from around the planet, from Clement Creole Shrubb liqueur from Martinique, to passion fruits predominantly from ‘down under’, the sriracha chili paste from Asia, and the Milagro tequila from Mexico. This cocktail is like a mini-United Nations, working together harmoniously, into something unexpectedly delicious! To take it up another notch, I decided to create a spiced nut mix to pair with this margarita.”
1½ oz Milagro Anejo Tequila
¾ oz Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur
¼ oz Ravi Fruit Frozen, Sweetened, Passion Fruit Puree
5/8 oz Milagro Agave Nectar
5/8 oz Lemon juice
1 oz Lime juice
3 Basil leaves
1 Pinch sea salt
Freshly squeeze and strain lemon juice and then combine it with equal parts of Milagro Agave Nectar to make an agave sour mix. Set aside. In a mixing glass, muddle the basil leaves with the lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients listed, including the agave sour that you just made (1.25 oz). Shake well with ice to chill and strain over fresh ice into a 10-11oz highball glass. Top with 1 ½ oz Sriracha-Basil-Passion Fruit Espuma, a small basil top, and several chili threads as garnish.
Abigail Gullo won The People’s Choice Award and was a close second in the judging, with her creation, Margarita de Lavanda. Abigail was all about New York, with her ingredients all coming from local sources, and most with a story. The drink had an irresistible aroma with a smooth lavender-based flavor. Just delicious, period. The bubbly New Yorker was a lot of fun for the guests and judges alike, with her entertaining stories and New York humor!
MARGARITA DE LAVANDA
2 oz Blanco Tequila
¾ oz Fresh lime juice
¾ oz Lavender simple syrup*
5-6 Fresh mint leaves
Put all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well (no need to muddle; the ice will break up the mint nicely without making it bitter). Double strain into a cocktail coupe (or on the rocks if you prefer) and garnish with fresh mint and lime twist.
*To make the lavender simple syrup, combine 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in a sauce pan with a handful of dried lavender buds. Simmer until sugar is dissolved and turn off the heat. Let the lavender sit for at least 20 minutes; more if you want stronger syrup. Strain out the buds and refrigerate when cool. It will keep up to a month.
Congratulations to both Patricia and Abigail, and to everyone in the competition. There wasn’t a bad drink to be had that night!
Through its annual Spirited Award program, Tales of the Cocktail provides recognition to those individuals and establishments that have shown an outstanding talent for advancing the craft of the cocktail. This year’s awards show honored fifteen individuals and establishments for excellence as determined by a judging panel of 30 of the world’s foremost cocktail experts. The ceremony was hosted by emcee Billy Harris and featured celebrity presenter
Bryan Batt from AMC’s Mad Men as well as Tales of the Cocktail founder, Ann Tuennerman.