The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2017

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june 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  91 What does an "American cocktail" mean to you? Duane Sylvestre: For me, an American cocktail would be a drink with an inspirational story. The ingredients would be chosen by inspiration, and each sip would inspire the next. Derek Brown: The cocktail, as a beverage, first appears in a U.S. publication in 1803. I suppose, that's what makes it American, but there's so much more. In many ways, the cocktail is just one stop in time and space. Mixed drinks are sort of a conversation throughout human history, and the American expression is an individually served beverage mixed to each person's liking. In that case, what makes it American is just how perfectly it mirrors the American sense of idealism and individualism. It's bound by both the historical record and cultural sensibility as an American drink. Can American cocktails be made with global spirits? DB: They should be made with global spirits! Cocktails flourish and are bolstered by using global spirits and even incorporating global perspectives. I think that looks like what we have today, where you can see bartenders using everything from classic cocktail spirits like Dutch genever or Cognac to spirits that are only recently gaining ground in the U.S. like singani or sochu. DS: "American" is the embodiment of diversity and inclusion, I'd argue that it's difficult to have an American cocktail without global influence, so why not global spirits as well? What will you be looking for as a judge? DS: A balanced beverage, inspired presentation and a great story. DB: Does it look good, taste good and does the bartender display confidence in serving it. To me, that's what makes any cocktail great. Here's a look at the ten brands we'll be featuring in this competition. If you're in D.C., join us on June 29th to catch the action LIVE! Visit to buy your tickets today. If you can't get to the capital, be sure to stay tuned to our August issue! High Noon Grapefruit Vodka, USA Calamity Gin, USA Rosa 22, Italy Papa's Pilar Rum, USA Uncle Val's Gin, USA Jägermeister, Germany Rhum Clément, Martinique Singani 63, Bolivia Florio Marsala, Italy PHOTO: MARK FINKENSTADT PHOTO: MARK FINKENSTADT Derek Brown is Chief Spirits Advisor for the National Archives Foundation.

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