The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 76 of 128

BARTENDER COMPETITION Shaking in San Diego A Mike Yen, the mixologist from Kitchen 1540, the signature restaurant at the exquisite L'Auberge Del Mar resort. Yen's Mike Yen's Mexican Peace Pipe was served in glass pre-chilled in liquid nitrogen and topped with an enclosed dome of smoke. task was simple enough: Create a signature cocktail using one of the events' sponsored libations; Pisco Portón, El Cartel Tequila, Milagro Tequila, Pink Pigeon Rum or 619 Vodka. Yen responded to the challenge by whipping up a fun, funky concoction dubbed a Mexican Peace Pipe—a smoky, spicy, faintly tart potable served in a glass pre-chilled in liquid nitrogen and topped with an enveloping, enclosed roof of mist. The drink was paired with a sumptuous duo of steak and salmon (along with a sinful bite of pre-ban foie gras) as expertly prepared by Kitchen 1540's Executive Chef, Scott Thomas Dolbee. Together, the duo of food and beverage was innovative and tasty enough to best four other San Diego County–based teams and win the competition, which served as a tantalizing precursor to the 4th Annual San Diego Spirits Festival, which takes place August 25–26. You could even say they smoked their opponents, if bad puns are your kind of thing. For their top-notch creativity, Kitchen 1540 was rewarded with a free website setup provided by the digital marketing company Restaurant Connect. RICH MANNING JUDGES THE CHEF/BARTENDER SHAKEDOWN IN LA JOLLA, WHERE MIXOLOGIST MIKE YEN WINS WITH A PEACE PIPE s I took my seat as a judge for the Chef/Bartender Shakedown Event at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, CA on June 27, I was expecting to be met with a happy mélange of summertime drinks, beckoning me to jump from my table, ditch my shoes and socks and gleefully skedaddle to the hotel's adjacent San Diego County coastline so I could dip my feet in the water. I was not expecting, however, to be served a smoldering cocktail whose white plume was held prisoner by a transparent dome. But that is exactly what happened. And it totally worked. The man responsible for such liquid alchemy was The winning team from Kitchen 1540 at L' Auberge del Mar resort (left to right): Sous Chef Jon Bautista, Executive Chef Scott Thomas Dolbee and Mixologist Mike Yen. Mike Yen prepares the Mexican Peace Pipe. The winning cocktail competition acted as a precursor to the 4th Annual San Diego Spirits Festival, August 25-26. For more information on the upcoming San Diego Spirits Festival, email or go to 76 / the tasting panel / august 2012

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