The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2015 COMPETITIONS O n November 17, ten bartenders from various states came together in Hollywood, CA for the Bacardi Legacy Regional Finals. These ten were chosen from a field of more than 260 bartenders who had submitted original recipes for Bacardi Rum cocktails, along with their own very personal stories of the legacies that the drink represented in their lives. The Western Regionals included bartenders from Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Each bartender took their turn on the stage, making their cocktail as they told their stories, which were as varied as the cities from which they hailed. Some drew inspiration from personal loss, others from overcoming illness and still others from the art and culture of Cuba or where they live today. Kalani Ben, who is behind the stick at the Allis Bar at Soho House Chicago, told a story about his grandfather, who had been captured by the Japanese in World War II when they invaded the Philippines, and later worked in a sugarcane field in Hawaii. His story left a few people in the audience with misty eyes, and his drink—Family Ties, with its combination of Bacardi Superior, lime juice, clove syrup and Amaro Abano— won over the judges to advance him to the National Finals. He'll be joined there by fellow regional winners—both alumni of last year's national competition–Jessica Sanders from drink.well in Austin and Andrew Meltzer from 15 Romolo in San Francisco. Meltzer explained what legacies were and why they were important. While he delivered his well-honed explanation, which included quotes from Charles Dickens and great use of showmanship, he built his revival of the Cobbler: the Cuban Cobbler, made with Bacardi Gold, Sherry, Poire Williams liqueur, lemon juice and honey simple syrup. Sanders' drink, La Grandiflora, was a combination of Bacardi Superior, hibiscus purée, bitter honey syrup, vermouth, lime juice and three drops of almond extract. She made the drink in the face of a crowd that had reached a celebratory point that would cause many to wither under its cacophony. But Jessica, despite admitting to being an intro- vert in an industry that demands extroversion, weathered the storm to tell her story of the significance of the hibiscus grandiflora in Cuban culture and the perseverance of the Bacardi family and brand through their long history. The finalists all move on to the U.S. National Finals and a chance to compete for the Grand Prize—a spot in the Global Legacy Cocktail Competition, held in Sydney, Australia in May 2015. PERSONAL STORIES GIVE SHAPE TO THE MIXOLOGY AT THE BACARDI LEGACY COMPETITION by Matthew Robold Telling Cocktails Kalani Ben from The Allis Bar at Soho House Chicago; Jennifer Sanders from Austin's drink.well; Andrew Meltzer from 15 Romolo in San Francisco. Each created a cocktail with legacy potential at the Los Angeles Bacardi Legacy competition. All three will advance to the national finals.

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