I won't lie to you: the life of the food editor is tough. Sometimes you have to find a way to eat four dinners on a Thursday night and still fit into your pants on Friday morning. Sometimes you plan to go home at a sensible hour, then someone starts pouring Frenet shots and you don't make it to your bed until 4am. And other days, you have to drink 13 cocktails at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It's grueling, but I do it for you, so you can make the most of your Devour experience. You're welcome.
This year's Devour Downtown Cocktail contest was broken down into four categories by liquor type, some in a head-to-head battle and others, like in the whiskey category, that pitted as many as six bartenders against each other. All the cocktails will be available during Devour Downtown, so I thought I'd give you a little recommended drinking for the occasion. Again, you're welcome.
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If you like sweet, easy drinking:
The vodka category winner was like a sweet, liquid form of pear-raisin pie, with a smokey, aromatic twist with the torched rosemary. The collective of judges (Sean Copeland of B105.7, The Star's Amy Haneline, wine and spirits expert Arthur Black, our own Jolene Ketzenberger and myself) found this one to be more of a dessert cocktail, with just enough nuance to please a more sophisticated palate. Get one of these if that new calorie counting app you just downloaded is forcing you to choose between a cocktail and dessert.
Sugar Solstice Tart by Kenny Gardner
Tavern On South
1.5 o.z Grey Goose
1 oz. St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Orgeat Simple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Plum Preserves
Lemon and Vanilla Infused Sugar
1 Sprig of Torched Rosemary
Make it at home:
Rim a martini glass with the lemon and vanilla infused sugar. Combine Grey Goose, Pear
Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Orgeat and Plum Preserves in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the sugared
martini glass. Torch the sprig of rosemary and lay across the martini glass.
If you like strong flavors and a little sugar:
This winning rum cocktail had a strong (but not overpowering) base flavor of fresh ginger. This really turned my crank, as I'm one of those annoying people who asks for hot sauce at every restaurant. The drink was still plenty sweet to balance the burn, but it elevated the drink beyond just a simple but delicious flavor profile and added that extra sensory experience. It also warms you up a little without the intensity of bourbon or cognac. The best part is you can use a little bit more wallet-friendly rum in this, and the combination of flavors actually elevates the base flavor of the rum instead of just covering it up.
Squiffy & Wench by Kelley Morgan
1.5 oz. Cruzan Dark
¾ oz. Ginger Syrup
¼ oz. Simple Syrup
½ Squeezed Lime Juice
Make it at home:
Combine Cruzan Dark, Ginger, Simple Syrup, Pureed Ginger and fresh lime juice. Shake and pour over ice.
Serve in a martini glass with a sugar/lime half rim.
If you're a serious cocktail aficionado or you want to meet a whole different side of tequila:
This was the best-in-show winner as well as the winner of the tequila category. Most of us are used to seeing tequila used in pretty run-of-the-mill applications, but Barbie Gale's use was like when Steve Urkel first became Stefan Urquelle. While it is alcohol-forward, the baking spices and fall-winter flavors were a real surprise to drink with tequila. There's just a hint of chocolate, cinnamon, orange and very little noticeable "tequila" flavor in the way we're use to tasting it (or rather, masking it). It was a beautifully balanced cocktail that took advantage of flavor and scent in equal measure. Best of all, it's incredibly simple to make at home. Bravo, Barbie!
Chiquilla Martini by Barbie Gale
Harry & Izzy’s
2 oz. Tres Generaciones tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
.5 oz. Dark Cream de Cocoa
Make it at home
: Mix liquor. Garnish with an orange slice dusted with cocoa powder.
If you can only drink one, but that one drink better count:
If a really good Old Fashioned hooked up with a bottle of Prosecco, this would be the result, and it's delicious. The winner of the whiskey category put together something all at once familiar and totally new. The lightness of the bubbles cut through some of the burn of the whiskey, and, as bubbles do, it gives you a happy little buzz pretty much instantly. One of these guys, however, is definitely plenty.
Orange You Classy by Carrie Pietz
2 oz, of RI
1/4 oz. Luxardo Cherry Juice
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
3 Luxardo Cherries
Float of Prosecco
1/2 oz. of Solerno Orange Liquor
Make it at home:
Muddle one cherry with cherry juice and two dashes of bitters in a pint glass. Add ice, Solerno and RI. Stir and then pour into a coupe glass. Add float of Prosecco. Pick two cherries as garnish.