The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 122 of 134

120  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 10 a.m. comes mighty early on the third day of a beverage conference—especially one with a schedule as jam-packed as the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 75th Annual Convention & Exposition held April 30–May 3 in Las Vegas. Master of ceremonies Tony Abou-Ganim, however, certainly rose to the occasion as he arrived right on time to hand out a full slate of awards. First up: Call for Cocktails, in which ten mixologists presented 14 original cocktail entries representing 13 brands. The drinks were judged on four criteria: taste (40 points), creativity/originality (25 points), presentation (25 points), and overall impression (10 points). The rules only require that the creations qualify as a "fancy" cocktail, meaning competi- tors were in no way limited to, say, an apéritif, long, or dessert drink. Success, Abou-Ganim explained from his place at the podium, could be measured by affirmative responses to the following questions: "Would I finish the drink? Would I order another one? Would I recommend it to a friend?" The judging panel consisted of "King Cocktail" Dale DeGroff; "The Cocktail Guru" Jonathan Pogash; Philip Dobard, Director of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans and Los Angeles; author Wayne Curtis; and Nick Nistico of Damn Good Hospitality and Breakthru Beverage Nevada. While it was perhaps expected for the winning recipe to come from the whis- key, tequila, or rum rounds, it was actu- ally the work performed in the gin and vodka portion that truly captured the judges' attention. "It was very enlighten- ing for me, because vodka technically by law is odorless, flavorless, and colorless. But with all of these drinks, the vodka or gin showed through and we were able to find it in the drink," said Pogash. "I thought they represented the spirits used in each of those cocktails really well. It was very enjoyable—probably my favorite round." Vastly increasing his chance of win- ning by entering four cocktails, Troy Clarke, Director of Mixology & Spirits Education for Martignetti Companies, won the panel over with his A Tale from Two Ts cocktail, which featured Tito's Handmade Vodka, Earl Grey tea syrup, grapefruit and key lime juices, and but- termilk panna cotta. "[Clarke's] winning cocktail was really quite good," Pogash said. "It had that perfect balance—a little dry, not cloyingly sweet—and the presentation was beautiful." Ryan Wehrenberg of Western Spirits Beverage Company and Mike McSorley of Dented Brick Distillery claimed second place, while Las Vegas swept the People's Choice awards: Joy Herrin of Chica in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian came in first, followed by Rob Amato of John Drew Brands and Max Solano of Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits of Nevada in second and third, respectively. "One of the hallmarks of this and a lot of the competitions that I judge is that presentation is sort of leading the way," Dobard noted while giving some constructive criticism. "We're in danger of losing the spirit. A great cocktail On hand to judge the Call for Cocktails competition were "King Cocktail" Dale DeGroff; Philip Dobard, Director of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans and Los Angeles; author Wayne Curtis (who also joined the judges for the Iron Mixology competition); Nick Nistico of Damn Good Hospitality and Breakthru Beverage Nevada; and "The Cocktail Guru" Jonathan Pogash. Leading the Way THE CALL FOR COCKTAILS AND IRON MIXOLOGIST COMPETITIONS ASTOUND AND INSPIRE AT THE WSWA 75TH ANNUAL CONVENTION & EXPOSITION by Xania V. Woodman / photos by Mona Shield Payne WSWA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2018