Last month, I had the pleasure of being the media judge for Bombay Sapphire Gin’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition in Reno, Nevada. Since I’m new to the Bartenders’ Guild and have cocktail competitions on the radar (for me and some of the guys I work with), I figured this was a great opportunity for me.
This competition is presented by Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQ Magazine. Participants have to create an imaginative cocktail using Bombay Sapphire Gin as the base spirit. Drinks are limited to 6 ingredients and can include homemade syrups, bitters, liqueurs, etc.
Last year’s winner created a cocktail named Paper Anniversary that had three ingredients: Bombay Sapphire Gin, homemade paper syrup and a salt solution. The glass was garnished with a bank note from the paper mill that used to operate in the future home of the distillery. Not only was it imaginative, it also drew inspiration from Bombay Sapphire Gin.
For the Reno competition, the blind tasting judges were myself, Gary Hayward (brand ambassador for Bombay Sapphire Gin) and Dayna Kovacic (Nevada Market Manager for Bacardi). We sat in a back area where we couldn’t see who was making the drinks. They were brought to us after each competitor was done along with the recipe that was used. Over the course of 2-ish hours, we tasted 8 different cocktails (and lots of water).
After much sniffing, sipping and discussing, we declared these three drinks the winners… (I might be missing a few ingredients for the drinks-I forgot to make notes on what was in them).
Third place: Queen Liliko-Kalani
Created by Chris Jacinto: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lilikoi juice, Egg white
Second place: Flowers for Rosemary
Created by Steve Sedillos: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Rosemary infused egg white, Lemon, Creme de Violette, Soda water
First place: Queen V
Created by Ilona Martinez: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Aperol, Lemon, Grapefruit-Cardamom-Lemon Peel syrup
After winning this competition, Ilona went to Las Vegas where she took second place in the next round of the competition.
Special thanks to the Reno Bartenders’ Guild for allowing me to be the media judge at the competition. I look forward to attending more of these events and maybe even competing myself one day.
Drink photos courtesy of Gary Hayward. Featured image credit Bombay Sapphire Gin.