It's always a wonder when the city's top mixologists get together under one roof. But wait, don't call them mixologists...they still want to be called bartenders.
Call them what you like, some of Miami's finest vodka slingers played front and center in Svedka's Annual Vodka Competition hosted by STK Miami and Miami magazine. A panel of five judges -- including Short Order -- saw, sniffed and swizzled as five bar chefs mixed up whacked out vodka-based concoctions with a mix of sweet, savory and spicy ingredients
These were the evening's top three and the unfortunate flop.
My favorite drink, and winner, of the evening was Paul Sevigny's "Lavender Lady." It included chocolate bitters, homemade lavender syrup, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Svedka Clementine, a smidge of lime juice and an egg white to create something that was chic, layered, complex and balanced at the same time. Lavender and spring cherries wafted from the beautiful frothy cap while the palate echoed the bitter cocoa, lavender and clementine flavors. To my dismay, someone had swiped my coupe before I could take another sip. I think I'll be going to the Florida Room to get me some seconds.
Of all the bartenders, Bar Lab's Tom
Merolla put forth the most inventive ingredient list of the evening.
His "Apple Ginger Snap" fused the New England boy's heritage with a
definitive Asian twist. Canton Ginger Liqueur, fresh ginger, mulled
apple cider, nutmeg/vanilla/brown sugar syrup, yuzu, Aperol and SVEDKA
standard all combined in a surprisingly harmonious way. The final
grating of cinnamon warmed the senses while the yuzu freshened and
lightened the mix. Truly imaginative.
Ferrara, head bartender of STK Miami, presented "Thyme is of the
Essence," a muddled mix of thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, hibiscus syrup,
egg white and SVEDKA standard. More of an elevated cosmo than an herby
zinger, there wasn't anything particularly wrong with this drink, but it
would have been nice to actually taste the woodsy herbs on the palate
than just being able to smell it on the surface. The egg whites lent a
lovely, luscious texture that helped balance some of the acidity coming
from the fresh lemon juice and hibiscus syrup. Nice, but not stellar.
Last but not
least, Christian from Love & Hate came up with the undisputed flop
of the night. Aside from his dismissive and arrogant presentation, his
cocktail looked like a science experiment gone awry. This was a classic
case of trying to be something you're not and a clear case of failed
execution. He mashed up raw corn, strawberry, basil, ginger,
lavender/rosemary/ginger/raspberry syrup and SVEDKA standard; shook it
up; spritzed a basil leaf with a touch of something; hollowed out a
strawberry and filled it with strawberry caviar. Unfortunately, the
drink itself tasted like fruit punch and you couldn't sense any of the
elements he put some much effort in to creating; the garnish looked like
a strawberry with a brain spilling out of it. Molecular cocktails are
nothing new these days, but if you're going to do it, make sure your
execution is flawless. My advice, don't get jiggy for the sake of being