A view from the judge's table.
The picture above looks (blurry and) calm, but judging cocktails — as I did at last weekend's 20th annual Pikes Peak Food & Wine Expo
— is a harried business full of sips of all and swallows of none.
In front of the public attendees at The Broadmoor, bartenders from Nosh
, Johnny Martin's Car Central
, The Famous
, V Bar
and The Blue Star
competed for best cocktail in two categories and best bartender overall. This coincided with the Expo itself, where roughly 70 local restaurant-members of the Pikes Peak chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association dished grub all afternoon. Media personalities, like our Matthew Schniper, joined with local restaurants in a separate competition as well.
It was a tight fight. Like the time I did it last year, almost all the drinks except for one or two are exceptional and everybody goes all out. For example, I couldn't tell you who did it, but somebody making a drink based on Bacardi 8 — the other spirits mixologists had to use were Tequila Herradura, Bénédictine and Chambord — garnished it with a cigar next to an ice ball of frozen orange rind. Awesome.
Bartenders were judged on presentation, taste and use of ingredients. Ultimately, Luis Rodriguez
with The Famous won for his Rum Old Fashioned, while Adam Gasper
with the V Bar won for his Agave Mojito Martini. Gasper also took best overall, in addition to $250.
Colorado Springs' cocktail scene is coming along. Get out there, drink what you like, read about stuff you've never had, push your favorite bartender to make it, stock it and love it, and let's make our way to this