Appleton Rum Remixology Challenge at Blackbird Ordinary: Cocktails Set To Music

What do you get when you ask some of Miami's best bartenders to set their cocktails to music? One entertaining evening filled with rum, costumes, music, and more than a little mayhem.

We're talking about the Appleton Estate Jamaica rum remixology bartender challenge, held at Blackbird Ordinary last evening. Five bartenders were challenged to create cocktails using Appleton rum, based on a favorite song. Mixologists were judged on creativity, taste, and performance. And there were some great performances -- and costumes. Competing bartenders included Nick Nistico (Soho Beach House); Richie Petronzi (Ocho at Soho Beach House); Robert Ferrara (The Dutch); Cricket Nelson (Clarke's); and Ben Clemons (No. 308 in Nashville).

This was the fourth regional remixology event, with competitions held earlier in New York, San Francisco, and Boston. The winner of each regional event will go on to compete in the finals in New York City on September 10th, where the grand prize winner will be crowned.

Each bartender was given two chances to impress judges John Lermayer, Josh Wagner, and Mike Parish with their mixology and performance skills. Using everything from bribery with $100 bills and lines of cocaine (we were assured neither was real) to threats of physical danger (with giant bloody knives and real syringes), each contestant went all out to put on a good show -- and make a great drink.

Cricket Nelson (Clarke's) got her '70s groove on with a cocktail inspired by "champagne, cocaine, and hedonism". Set to Sister Sledge's "We Are Family", Nelson enticed judges with a spin on a classic champagne cocktail garnished with $100 bills and lines of coke (both money and drugs were for "entertainment purposes only").

Nick Nistico (Soho Beach House) was a hot mess (in a good way). Breaking glasses, spraying the crowd, and generally having a good time, Nistico pounded his way through his Flip The Script cocktail, made performed to The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage."

Ben Clemons (No. 308) received inspiration from his spirit animal and the band Toto. Clemons created a cocktail best enjoyed while missing "the rains down in Africa." In the classic tiki spirit, Clemons fashioned Coco's Boat House, a blend of rum, homemade limoncello, Curacao, and coconut water.

Robert Ferrara (The Dutch) paid homage to the three Kings, blending the sweetness of fresh pineapple, the snap of red bell pepper, and the smokiness of agave with rum and Angostura bitters. Ferrara's song? Queen's "We Are The Champions" (natch).

Richie Peetronzi (Ocho at Soho Beach House) rocked out to Biggie Smalls' "Party 'n' Bullshit". His performance art-based cocktail included Colt 45s in a handy to-go brown paper bag, Swisher milds, and copious amounts of Appleton shots.

After the scores were tallied, Ben Clemons was declared the winner, with Cricket Nelson placing second and Richie Petronzi coming in at third place. Clemons summed up the evening's festivities in his acceptance speech, "We've been drinking rum all night. That makes us all winners."

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