The fourth annual Shake It Up! Cocktail Competition took place at the 25th Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show recently in Las Vegas, where 25 competitors took turns entertaining a packed audience and wowing the judges — oh, and developing some creative, delicious cocktails.
Southern Wine and Spirits of America hosted the competition, with a judging panel that included top mixologists Armando Rosario, Livio Lauro and Bridget Albert. Each cocktail was judged on presentation, aroma, taste and creativity. Here are some of the recipes the five finalists came up with on the spot, involving the secret ingredient of 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, plus the recipes that earned them a spot in that final round and the winner of Best Garnish.
Final Round Recipes
Daniel Gonzales, Hotel St. Francis, Albuquerque, N.M.
1 ½ ounces (ri)1 whiskey
¾ ounce Domaine de Canton
1 ½ ounces fresh sour
2 sprigs of rosemary (one for garnish)
2 bar spoons of diced golden delicious apples
¼ ounce 25-year-old balsamic vinegar
Take 1 sprig rosemary, apples, balsamic vinegar and ½ ounce sour in mixing glass and muddle. Add all other liquid ingredients. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. For garnish, take the other rosemary sprig and light it on fire until it smokes and wrap it with a lemon twist.