By some incredible turn of events that involved the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, 3 airports and 12 hours, I landed myself at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans with 48 hours notice. Tales is an internationally acclaimed event for bartenders, spirit brands, booze media and enthusiasts, celebrating its 9th year as the 5 day bacchanalian conference to be at in the Big Easy.
I chased down fellow Hawaiian, bartender Sam Treadway from the Waikiki Edition passing out leis and competing with his “Killer Fizz” Pina Colada at the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) Pina Colada Championship sponsored by Bacardi on Friday night. The special event held at Tales of the Cocktail had 17 bartenders vying for the title that would make them $1,500 richer, adorn their mantel with a fantastic trophy and qualify them for a spot in the World Cocktail Competition in Warsaw, Poland compliments of USBG.
The Championships were held at the Foundry in the Warehouse District of New Orleans where 550 attendees sipped hand shaken Bacardi cocktails and listened to a live Latin band playing Caribbean sounds. Juan Coronado, Bacardi Brand Master, explains,”The main bars were serving Bacardi Legacy cocktails, like the ‘Daiquiri’ from 1898, the ‘Cuba Libre’ from 1900 and the ‘Pina Colada’ from 1954.” Each of the bartenders had a station where they described built and passed out their ever creative versions of the ubiquitous tropical drink while the samplers got to vote on their favorite with a wooden chip.
The winners of the event however were judged by a panel comprised of some of the foremost authorities on cocktails. Technical judges included: USBG National President David Nepove, USBG National Past President Livio Lauro, and Best Technical Performance at the National 2009 USBG Cocktail Contest winner Ronaldo Colli. Tasting judges included: USBG Vice President Aaron Gregory Smith, Bacardi Brand Master Juan Coronado, Bacardi Brand Master David Cid, Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador David Cordoba and Managing Editor of In the Mix Magazine Mike Maven.
Debbi Peek of Chicago was crowned champion of the Pina Colada at Tales of the Cocktail with her Pina Colada called “No Passport Required.” It featured smoked Bacardi Bacardi Anejo and pineapple and ginger purees, with a glass rimmed with toasted coconut and honey. The crowd sourced favorite was Las Vegas’ Matt Myers who received the majority of the chips to take home the People’s Choice award. His Thai Pina Colada had Asian influences and spicy cashews presenting a complex flavor profile.
“The goal of the USBG Pina Colada competition at Tales of the Cocktail was to inspire today’s generation of bartenders to reimagine this classic cocktail and take it forward into the second golden age of cocktails,” said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail. “The winning cocktails had true balance and complexity of flavor and deserve their place in history alongside the Original Pina Colada.“
No Passport Required Created by Debbi Peek, Chicago
- 2 oz Smoked Bacardi Anejo Rum
- 2 oz coconut milk
- 1 oz Roasted Pineapple Puree (Perfect Puree)
- 1/2 oz brown sugar syrup (equal parts brown sugar/water)
- 1/2 oz Ginger Puree (equal parts fresh ginger/water/sugar/ blended)
- Garnish – Glass dipped in honey and rimmed with toasted coconut
- Smoked Bacardi Anejo – Cold smoke over cherry wood for 45 minutes.
Directions: Shake all with ice. Strain into toasted coconut-rimmed ice-filled Pina Colada glass.
Thai Pina Colada Created by Matt Myers, Vegas
- 1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8 Yr
- 2 oz Pina Colada Mix
- 1 1/2 oz Thai Syrup
- 6 Leaves & 1 crown Mint Leaves, muddled & for garnish
- 3 Leaves Kaffir Lime Leaves, muddled & for garnish
- 1 Shoot of Lemon Grass, as garnish
Directions: In an old fashion glass, bruise 6 mint leaves and 2 kaffir lime leaves with Bacardi 8 Rum. Strain rum into blender with Thai Syrup, Pina Colada mix and 1 scoop of ice. (Reserve glass with bruised leaves). Blend until smooth. Pour contents into old fashion glass with bruised leaves. Stir leaves quickly. Garnish with 1 Lemon grass shoot, 1 kaffir lime leaf and a slapped mint crown. Provide a straw and enjoy!
Killer Fizz Created by Sam Treadway, Hawaii
- 1 1/2 oz Bacardi Superior
- 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
- 1 oz fresh coconut milk
- 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
- 1/2 oz orgeat
- 1 fresh egg white
- 2 oz soda water
- 2 fresh chunks of pineapple soaked in St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
Directions: Put all ingredients except soda water, Allspice Dram and pineapple chunks into your shaker. Dry shake and then shake vigorously with ice. Pour your soda water into your chilled collins glass. Double strain the shaken mixture over the soda water. With a kitchen torch, lightly roast the pre-soaked pineapple. Lay the burnt pineapple chunks over your drink on a pick. Serve with a straw.