The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2014

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Page 58 of 148

58  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2014 COMPETITIONS W ith inspiration for recipes ranging from an homage to a mid- century U.S. radio astronomy program, to a science/magic color-changing "gem" ice, to Transformers, creativity was in the air at the Los Angeles finals of the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition. As nine of L.A.'s most talented bartenders faced off, a mix of USBG members and interested consumers gathered at Harlowe in West Hollywood, where a separate crowd favorite vote would determine a People's Choice winner. After an intense round of judging led by Mary Bartlett, Creative Cocktail Development and Bar Manager at Honeycut; Chris Ojeda, former Creative Bar Director at Soho House; Karen Grill, 2013 L.A. regional winner; and Zahra Bates, bartender at The Pikey Café & Bar, a winner was chosen: Ali Huleisy, a bartender at Melrose Umbrella Company in West Hollywood, took home the crown with a cocktail that paid homage to Bombay Sapphire's Spice Route origins. "Bombay Sapphire represents the heritage of the British Empire's colonial period," said Huleisy, "and in that time, people were traveling to India and bringing gin with them." The result was the delicious London Lassi, a nod to the fruit- and yogurt-based drink that is popular across India. With nice weight on the palate from the yogurt and a wonderful flavor from the saffron- infused gin, Huleisy had a home run on his hands, and swept both the judging and People's Choice. For the first time this year, the L.A. competition featured a Consumer Cocktail Hour, where guests had the opportunity to sample and vote for some of the most innovative cocktails in L.A. "It's an absolute honor to be nationally recognized in my field," said Huleisy. "There's so much emerging talent in the bartending field around the country, and the USBG and Bombay Sapphire are really doing a great service by bringing the craft of bartenders to the forefront!" Huleisy will join the other regional winners for a final shake-off on September 8 in Las Vegas, where he'll have a chance to advance to the global finals. "I'll be bring- ing my A-game!" said Huleisy with a smile. Good luck to all of you imaginative bartenders! Welcome to the Imaginarium BOMBAY SAPPHIRE BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN BARTENDERS FOR ITS MOST IMAGINATIVE BARTENDER COMPETITION by Rachel Burkons Winner of the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition, Ali Huleisy, of Melrose Umbrella Company in West Hollywood, with Bombay Sapphire's Brand Ambassador Gary Hayward. PHOTO COURTESY OF BOMBAY SAPPHIRE PHOTO COURTESY OF BOMBAY SAPPHIRE The London Lassi ◗ 1½ oz. saffron-infused Bombay Sapphire ◗ ½ oz. pistachio-infused Strega ◗ ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice ◗ ¾ oz. The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley Mango Purée ◗ 1 barspoon Greek yogurt ◗ 8 drops Bitter End Curry Bitters

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