Bombay Sapphire brought their search for the Most Imaginative Bartender to Miami on August 4th, at the 1826 Restaurant & Lounge in Miami Beach. The competition, hosted by the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), included nine local mixologists tasked with creating a creatively delicious cocktail, and judged by industry professionals for a chance to travel to Las Vegas in September to compete for the National Crown.
The judges included 2013's Bombay Sapphire National Winner from Miami, Julio Cabrera of The Regent, and Bacardi Cocktail Experts Ben Carlotto, Ian Maclaren, and Jamie Evans.
Now in its eighth year, the event included a first ever "Consumer Cocktail Hour" where guests sampled and voted on their favorite cocktail among the contending bartenders. The inaugural People's Choice winner, Megan Bordoe of Lulu in the Grove, created a recipe that included curry from the local backyard of a Lulu regular that added a minty kick to her cocktail, "Indian Summer."
Indian Summer Recipe
1.5 oz. Bombay Sapphire
.5 oz. pomegranate liqueur
.25 oz. curry simple syrup
.25 oz. yuzu
3 dashes blood orange bitters
Trevor Alberts, the competitions second runner up (tied with Mark Kinger), took it back, way back, to the beginning with his recipe for "Swizzle for Victoria," paying homage to queen Victoria. His smooth tropical blend, of many once forgotten flavors, came together smoothly to create a deliciously historic cocktail.
Mark Kinger, the competitions second runner up (tied with Trevor Alberts), blended dragon fruit, black tea essence and Bombay ingredients to create his "English summer," a cocktail that's cool flavor is pH balanced for a guaranteed good time.
Josh Gates, the competition's first runner up, blended a a savory mix of earl grey tea, almond milk, and Bombay ingredients, topped with fresh lemon square to create "Her Majesty's Tea." In addition to the creative blend, Gates added the rules of the drink, "Take a sip, take a bite, take a dunk, take a sip."
Ximora Golgi, from the shops at Bal Harbour, went with a strong blend of several key ingredients found in Bombay Sapphire. Her drink, "Bombay Roots," had a touch of spice with it's blended spices strategically placed around the rim.
John Cooper of Swine's cocktail, entitled "Don't Tell Cece," blended the flavors of strawberry and basil to create a strong but soothing, and misleading, tasty cocktail.
Manuel Pic-n's dessert drink "Smoke for the Monks" is the perfect blend of cinnamon and gin, making it an alcoholic version of arroz con leche in a cup.
David Perez of The Mighty created a drink entitled "The Crown Jewels," blending a rosemary tincture, hibiscus flowers in syrup, and champagne. It tasted like "Love Potion #9," but stronger, much stronger.
After careful deliberation, the judges named Phillip Khandehrish's “The Alluring Gem” as the evening’s “Most Imaginative” based on appearance, aroma, imagination, and taste. The winning cocktail, blended with the classic herbs of Bombay origins and mixed with lavender infused Martini Bianco, gave off an enticingly seductive scent, closing with a truly invigorating flavor.
The Alluring Gem Recipe
1.5oz. Bombay sapphire Gin
.75oz. Sapphire shrub ("Juniper," "coriander," and "angelica")
.75oz. Lavender infused Martini Bianco
Khandehrish’s winning recipe has earned him a spot in the USBG Most Imaginative Bartender Finals in Las Vegas, to be held on September 8, 2014. If he is unable to attend, the first runner up Josh Gates will take his place in the competition. The final winner in September will also win a cover feature of GQ magazine's “Men of the Year” December 2014 issue, as well as the coveted position of US representative in the 2015 global finals.
“It’s an absolute honor to have the opportunity to be nationally recognized in my field,” says Khandehrish. “To be able to to compete alongside some of the most talented bartenders across the nation is something very few will have a chance to do, and I'm looking forward to seeing how far I can go against the best of the best. There's so much emerging talent in the bartending field around the country, and the USBG and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE are really doing a great service by bringing the craft of bartenders to the forefront. I've worked harder than you can imagine to get where I am and I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity. I'll be bringing my A game!”