If you want an escape from the hectic Miami Beach on the beach for Sunday Funday, then you ought to have want to have been at The Broken Shaker earlier this month where five bartenders competed for the trip of their lifetime. Named after the 16th century dance of the peacock, Pavan is a complex liqueur from the South of France.
The challenge? Pavan.
Launched only a year ago during Art Basel, you can easily get Pavan in many of the Magic City's staples like Broken Shaker, Soho Beach House, Casa Tua, Juvia, Nikki Beach, The Gale, and The Standard. To celebrate, the unique tasting liqueur called bartenders nationwide to join in the dream escape destination challenge, where they must do a simple task: formulate a Pavan-inspired sangria recipe.
The twist? It had to be inspired the their dream destination. Bartenders were invited to submit recipes online for the chance to be elected as a semifinalist. Semifinalists chosen from a panel of judges are then to prepare their batched sangria to judges, industry professionals, and consumers in select cities - Miami, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The four finalists will travel to NY for the finals come February.
Miami semifinal featured Gui Jaroschi and Cricket Nelson of the Broken Shaker, Blackbird's Ben Potts and Philip Khandehrish from The Setai. Armando Rosario made a visit from O in Orlando as the fifth semifinalist. Sangrias were judged base on creativity, quality and taste, visual presentation, and representation of dream destination. Judges included cocktail writer, author and spirits industry legend Gaz Regan and Pavan Master Blender Pascal Ribes, who traveled all the way from France to taste the destination inspired concoctions.
Here's a re-cap of the semifinals:
Armando Rosario went with South Africa. His sangria mixed pinot grigio, pisco peach, thyme and strawberries.
Gui from The Broken Shaker really wants to go to Japan, which is why he went over to a Japanese market and got all his ingredients. He used ozeki sake instead of wine for his sangria, and added hakushu Japanese whiskey and a green tea sweetened with sisho and yuzu. He even got some delish Japanese snacks to nibble on as you sipped your cocktail.
The Setai's Philip Khandehrish used ingredients from the land - lemon peel, pomegranate seeds and pineapple - to infuse his Grecian inspired drink. For him this was an opportunity to find out about his homeland, so he made a syrup with masticha liqueur (a five star Brandy that hails from Greece) and dill to blend with mocholifero white wine.
Ben Potts had a crowd gather to taste his French inspired cocktail." I wanted to use all French ingredients as I know a French bartender would if I was enjoying the cocktail in France," said Potts. His cocktail, coucher du soleil, paired Pavan liqueur
with pinot noir, remy martin, cointreau, and lemon juice topped with soda.
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But the winner was Cricket. Everything from her presentation to her delivery was authentic to India, her dream destination. Her India inspired cocktails came from the colors and sense of flavors that exist in India, as well as their tendency in their culture of being humble towards others. "I practice this every day in my profession serving others," says Cricket as she muddles fresh tamarind. Perhaps it was her fruit infused black tea finished in orange blossom honey and fresh tamarind juice that got her the winning ticket to NY. We think it has something to do with her attention to detail. She peeled a lemon wedge with 10 people waiting and made sure to dab the rim of every single person's
glassplastic cup. That finishing touch and the 10 flavors that came from her cocktail truly took you on a journey of India. Hopefully Cricket gets to make the journey to India herself, after competing in the Pavan finals held in NY this upcoming February.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha