Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tales of the Cocktail announces Spirit Awards Nominees

(Note: Photos courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail)

May 12

The place was spookily calm and quiet when I arrived at the Flatiron Lounge for a Tales of the Cocktail event compared to the last time I'd been there for a Tales event.

I sipped on a Punch & Judy, the winning cocktail for the Tales of the Cocktail Official Cocktail Competition, and talked a bit with Francis Schott as well as Hanna Lee of Hanna Lee Communications Inc., whom I run into often and finds it ridiculously cute that I speak Korean. I mostly knew Mr. Schott through emails about drinks that I regularly receive from Stage Left Restaurant, and we talked about his podcast radio program, "The Restaurant Guys," which he hosts with his partner Mark Pascal.

Then all of the sudden the doors burst open and it was instant chaos. The bartenders had arrived. They were returning from a croquet tournament that started at 11 in the morning.

I said hello to Mr. Dale DeGroff and spotted Gary Regan who looked (awesome) like a weathered Texas Ranger out of a spaghetti western version of Gandalf the Grey with his long coat, hat and flowing locks. This means that so far I've seen Gary Regan in three different incarnations.

There was a lot of new people meeting. Jonathan Pogash was there. I hadn't seen him since the Grand Marnier summit in Vail, Colo. There was also Maxwell Britten, who you can find behind the bar at Jack the Horse Tavern in Brooklyn. I didn't really get to talk to him when I saw him previously at the Rhum Clement event, so I was glad to chat. I finally met the other half of the Tippling Bros., Paul Tanguay, as well as the third founding member of Contemporary Cocktails Inc. who was always mysteriously absent, Kristopher Karr (he explained that he had been out of sight because he was working with a bar out of the country for the past 14 months).

As more people pressed in I was soon buffeted about like I was inner tubing down some rapids made out of people and bar fixtures. I tried very hard to stay out of the way, but that wasn't happening anytime soon. I even found myself cornered into a pocket created entirely by people and was trapped. Several times I landed myself in spots briefly enough to talk to people, but I was starting to get claustrophobic.

Throughout all this, I noted that the interesting thing about both times that I went to a Tales of the Cocktail Event at Flatiron Lounge is it feels very different from other events I go to. You feel like the bartenders and mixologists know they can let their hair down.

(l-r: Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey and Ann Rogers)

I finally rooted myself in a spot long enough to hear Ann Rogers, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, announce the Official Cocktail Competition winner and runners up. Charlotte Voisey, who won $1,500 for her winning Official Cocktail entry, said during her acceptance speech that she would be giving her prize money back to Tales of the Cocktail.

Nominees announced were for categories of:

Best Drink Selection
Cantina - San Francisco, USA
Death & Company - New York City, USA
Der Raum - Melbourne, Australia
Doheney - Downtown Los Angeles, USA
The Merchant Hotel - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Salvatore's Bar at Fifty - London, England
Trio Bar - Berlin, Germany
Matterhorn - Wellington, New Zealand

Best Classic Cocktail Bar
American Bar - Connaught Hotel, London, England
Bramble - Edinburgh, Scotland
Death & Co. - New York City, USA
Dukes Bar - Dukes Hotel, London, England
Experimental Cocktail Club - Paris, France
Flatiron Lounge - New York City, USA
Milk and Honey- New York City, USA
Bar Le Forum - Paris, France
The Merchant Hotel - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Montgomery Place - London, England
Widder Bar - Zurich, Switzerland

World's Best Cocktail Bar
The Flat Iron Lounge - New York City, USA
Le Lion - Hamburg, Germany
The Lonsdale - London, England
The Merchant Hotel - Belfast, Northern Ireland
Milk & Honey - New York, USA
Milk & Honey - London, England
Paparazzi - Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Salvatore at Fifty - London, England
Star Bar - Ginza, Tokyo, Japan

Best New Cocktail Bar
Bar Milano, New York City, USA
Beretta, San Francisco, USA
Death & Company, New York City, USA
Le Lion de Paris, Hamburg, Germany
02 Lounge, Ritz Carlton, Moscow
PDT (Please Don't Tell), New York City, USA
Ruby, Copenhagen, Denmark

Mixologist/Bartender of the Year
John Gerstern - No.9 Park, Boston, USA
Kenta Goto of Pegu Club - New York City, USA
Charles Joly - The Drawing Room, Chicago, USA
Duggan McDonnell - Cantina, San Francisco, USA
Erik Lorincz - Purple Bar, London, England
Jim Meehan - PDT, New York City, USA
Ago Perrone - Montgomery Place, London, England
Sam Ross - Milk & Honey New York City, USA
Nick Strangeway - Hawksmoor, London, England
Charles Vexenat - The Lonsdale, London, England
Philip Ward - Death & Company, New York City, USA

Other categories included Best Cocktail Writing, Best New Product, Best Cocktail Menu, Best Drinks Brand Representative/ Brand Ambassador. New award categories were also announced along with the nominees. There was the Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book Category and the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here are the recipes from the Official Cocktails Competition:

Best of Show
Charlotte Voisey, mixologist, Hendrick's Gin brand champion

Punch and Judy
1 oz Martell VSOP
1/4 oz Old New Orleans Crystal Rum
1/2 oz Hendrick's Gin
1/2 oz Bols Orange Curacao
2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lim juice
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz Partida agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
4 mint leaves

Second Place
Debbi Peek, master bartender, The Drawing Room at Le Passage

Nola's Nectar
1/2 oz Martell VSOP
1 1/2 oz Old New Orleans Amber Rum
3/4 oz Partida Agave Nectar
1/2 oz fresh grated ginger
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz water

Third Place
Kristi A. Svane, bartender, Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa

Big Easy Milk Punch
3/4 oz Martell VSOP
3/4 Old New Orleans Amber Rum
3/4 brown sugar simple syrup
2 oz milk
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dahs nutmeg
1 slice orange
1/2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice (no pulp)

Honorable Mention
Erana Hardy, bartender, Cafe Giovani

Hardy Punch
100% Blood orange juice not from concentrate
1 shot Old New Orleans Amber Rum
1 shot Martell
5 oz Mereo Red Wine

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