One of the most delightful things that can happen in a cocktail competition is the starburst effect of creativity the audience and judges get to experience.
Propose a cocktail competition, set the basic rules, put the word out to the community, and some younger bartenders who want to make their rep, right along with some older and more established pros that just can’t resist the thrill of competition and opportunity to strut their stuff, will come up with ideas from every direction imaginable…and some you never imagined.
That’s what happened when Roca Patrón came to Portland recently. Patrón was introducing its new line of ‘artesanal’ tequila made the old-fashioned way by slow cooking the agave in ovens and then crushing them in a stone pit with a giant “tahona” stone pulping the sweet nectar from the piñas to extract richer, riper and more aromatic juice for fermentation and distillation. Working with the United States Bartenders Guild and the state chapter, the Oregon Bartenders Guild, eight recipes were selected from the many submissions, with some promising---and some surprising---ideas for the judges and audiences to consider.
One of those surprising ones came from Sarah Rehman (Twitter handle @12dollarladle) of La Taq Cantina who made an enticing fancy cocktail she dubbed the Dulce Brujeria. (For those not conversant in Spanish, that translates to “Sweet Witchcraft”, and it was.)
Sarah used two ounces of Roca Patrón Añejo tequila (which must be aged in barrels for a minimum of one year to earn that designation); ½ ounce Combier Pamplemousse Liqueur, a French spirit delicately flavored with macerated grapefruit; ½ ounce of Strega, a bewitching herbal liqueur from Italy (and the name Strega is Italian for ‘witch’, as bruja is the Spanish, so there’s a neat tie-in there); 1 bar spoon of light agave syrup; and 2 dashes of orange bitters.
She combined the tequila, liqueurs, bitters and agave in a mixing glass and stirred with ice,t hen strained the beautifully brash bright yellow drink into a chilled coupe glass.
For the final touch, Sarah carefully sprinkled tiny threads of pure saffron on the surface of the cocktail. The tiny distinctively red threads floated gently on the meniscus, and ever so slowly orange-reddish-yellow tendrils began to uncurl lazily into the yellow cockatil in slow motion effect. Be-witching, one might say.
The effect was enchanting, the play of colors was fascinating, the drink was flavorful and distinctive, clearly displaying the rich fruity flavor and floral notes of the tequila flirting with the grapefruit and herbal Strega and orange bitters. The inescapable knowledge that saffron is the single most expensive spice by weight in the world made a serious impression as well.
So mark one up for Sarah for a creative, imaginative and workable drink that made perfect use of the major spirit---the Roca Patrón Añejo---as well as the flavor components of the other ingredients, then adding an artistic flair to the whole thing with those threads of saffron spice.
Eager competitors and entourage
The eager competitors gathered early, with all their hangers on; everyone was ready to get started, and the packed audience was ready to start drinking Roca Patron cocktails. There's Sarah, second from the right, with Nic the Bartender Nye, the emcee of the event
A great event
Despite the sweltering weather, the intoduction of Roca Patron Tequila to Portland was well attended. Everyone enjoyed the new tequila, and were delighted at the range of creative cocktails that issued forth from some of Portland's best bartenders.
Sarah Rehman mixes it up
Sarah begins to combine the elements for her Dulce Brujeria cocktail, made with Roca Patron Tequila, Strega, an intriguing herbal liqueur from Italy (the bright yellow bottle with the witch on the label) and Combier Pamplemousse, a soft and sensuous blend of light alcohol and pink grapefruit essence...and her own unexpected 'secret ingredient" to top everything off..
Sarah Rehman pours it up
After assembling her Dulce Brujeria cocktail carefully and precisely, Sarah pours it into fancy, delicate coupe cocktail glasses. The final touch of threads of saffron spice are added as the final touch stylish touch. The bit of exotic spicing added a glamour to the drink, making it beautiful to look at and seductive to drink.
The attentive crowd
The crowd watches attentively every step of the way, despite the 100 degree heat of a summer day in Portland. All the drinks were well received and Patron passed around samples of the different Roca Patron tequilas throughout the evening., followed by some mingling and a little dancing..because what's a night with tequila without a little dancing?
The Dulce Brujeria
There's some sweet witchcraft going on here with a seductive tequila, grapefruit and herbal Italian liqueur cocktail graced by exotic saffron spice. It's Sarah Rehman's Dulce Brujeria, made with Roca Patron Tequila. It met with great approval at the judge's table and pleased the entire audience with its creative use of ingredients and striking presentation.
Sarah and Friends
After her stint on stage, Sarah mingled with the appreciative audience and spent some time with her many friends, some old, some new. It was a pleasant, although sultry evening at the Juniper Hotel under the big tent.