Everyone just assumes Sunday, February 26th, was all about the Oscars. I suppose it's kind of a big deal, and there's definitely an audience ready to hang on every word of the acceptance speeches (or every dress on the red carpet). But what about that little NASCAR race? (Daytona 500 - Delayed.) Or maybe the latest episode of The Walking Dead on AMC? (Eh... can still catch it next week.) So I suppose there really wasn't much else going on in Baltimore... Or was there?
Actually, there was at least one other exceptional event that Sunday past - the "Rye's Up Against Cystic Fibrosis" fundraiser put on by the Baltimore Bartender's Guild. Yes, this was enough to pull me away from watching yet another overly long Oscar's broadcast. Instead, I preferred to join a host of this city's best cocktail slingers and try some amazing beverages and just-as-incredible foodstuffs at B&O American Brasserie.
So the idea was to hold a cocktail contest in which Baltimore's best mixologists competed to make the best drink with a base of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, a fantastic liquor that has really grown on me quite a bit lately. And for a few hours, we, the drinking (and paying) public, were allowed to meander around the restaurant and sample each of these cocktails while consuming some excellent hors d'oeuvres. Each attendee was given a ticket to vote for their favorite drink, while a panel of five judges was served each one separately, allowing for two winners: a "people's choice" and a "judges' choice".
Overall, the event was a phenomenal success. Of course, some drinks were better than others, but there were no "bad" ones to be had. The contestants from the likes of Bad Decisions, Woodberry Kitchen, and (naturally) Rye displayed serious mixology skills. Plus the cocktails were diverse enough to be allow even the casual imbiber to tell the difference - this one had a sweet tinge of Grand Marnier, that one featured Fernet Branca and sherry, the other one: egg whites and gingersnap liqueur. Truly an excellent variety of libations for one evening!
When the winners were announced, Anna Welker, representing B&O with her exquisite Falernum-and-St. Germain-touched creation, "The Galavanter", accepted the judge's favorite honor; and the tasty scotch and amaro concoction, the "Mad-hatten" from Adrian Ross-Boon (of Wit & Wisdom), took home the people's choice award. Two very worthy selections, if you ask me. Which I realize you didn't. But whatever... it's my story.
Anyway, the real winner here is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Maryland, which was the charitable focus of this event, with proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction going to benefit the organization. And, of course, the recently-founded Baltimore Bartender's Guild benefited as well, showing exactly what the talented mixologists in this town can accomplish, and throwing their name into the spotlight. I have a feeling (and a wish) that there will be many more such occasions... more contests, more charitable giving, more spectacular beverages, and hopefully even more creative bartenders looking to expand their craft... in the near future.
And believe me, I will be keeping you posted on these events as they approach.
So in case you were wondering, here is a list of all the contestants and their cocktails:
- Anna Welker – B&O (CONTEST WINNER)
The Galavanter - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Velvet Falernum, St. Germain, Dry Vermouth, Grapefruit Bitters
- John Reusing – Bad Decisions
Blood Orange Whiskey Smash - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Solerno, Orange & Mint Bitters, Fresh Mint, Blood Orange, Soda Water
- Jon Blair – Ryleigh’s
Capone Classic - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Sparkling Brut, Creole & Plum Bitters
- Connor Rasmussen – Woodberry Kitchen
Rye Ward 6 - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, WK Maraschino, Lemon, Snap, Egg White, Roasted Cinnamon Powder
- Jim Saufley – Frederick’s on Fleet
Rye-t On - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Walnut Liqueur, Pineapple Syrup, French Vermouth, Orange Bitters
- Doug Atwell – Rye
Copperhead - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, Blood Orange Gastrique, Cider Reduction, Boston Bittahs
- Adam Blake – TenTen
Disappearing Act - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Fernet Branca, Sherry, Demarara Syrup, Bitters
- Adrian Ross-Boon – Wit & Wisdom (PEOPLE'S CHOICE)
Mad-hatten - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Spicetree Scotch, Amaro Nonino, Sweet Vermouth, Barrel Aged Bitters
- Ari Magwood – Brewer’s Art
Rye Bleeding Heart - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Chartreuse, Cardamom Syrup, Roasted Beet Squares, Blood Orange Puree
- Dan Bueter - Heavy Seas Ale House
H.S. Manhattan - Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Heavy Seas Imperial Stout Liqueur, Old Fashion & BlackWalnut Bitters