GUERNEVILLE, Calif. -- The Korbel Brandy Cocktail Contest garnered entries from individuals throughout the United States, all competing for prizes and bragging rights as the best and brightest brandy mixologists. After careful evaluation, Korbel Brandy's panel of judges has selected the winners – three scrumptious brandy cocktail creations that brim with flavor and flair.
Entries were solicited in three categories – Hot Cocktail, Cold Cocktail and Holiday Punch – and picking the winners proved a difficult task. The winning entries demonstrate the creativity of contestants and the versatility of Korbel Brandy.
Winner of the Hot Cocktail category is Raul Faria of Las Vegas for his Spanish Tea. A bartender at Serendipity 3 in Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino, he found inspiration for his winning recipe in the juxtaposition of unusual flavors, temperatures and textures by blending deep spice and bright citrus, hot tea and cold whip cream. As he explained, "I tried to take classic English breakfast tea and bring it to a Spanish cafe."
1 1/2 oz. Korbel V.S.O.P. Gold Reserve Brandy
1 1/2 oz. Licor 43
3/4 oz. rosemary simple syrup*
4 1/4 oz. very hot Lipton tea
2 oz. fresh sweetened whipped cream
Glass: warmed Irish coffee mug
Combine Korbel V.S.O.P. Gold Reserve Brandy, Licor 43 and rosemary simple syrup in coffee mug. In a separate glass, brew tea and pour into coffee mug. Stir with spoon, then slowly layer the sweetened whipped cream on top and garnish with a light dusting of cinnamon.
* Rosemary simple syrup – add 8-10 sprigs to a simple syrup batch as it is being reduced. Remove the cooked sprigs. Keep syrup in a storm pour with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.
Alex Valencia of Woodhaven, N.Y., is the winner of the Cold Cocktail category for his Brandied Rose Drop. Autumn was the inspiration behind this brandy cocktail using infusions – one of mixology's most exciting frontiers – to create a unique, romantic and flavorful concoction.
Brandied Rose Drop
2 oz. Korbel California Brandy infused with dry rose buds
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup infused with cinnamon and vanilla bean
Glass: cocktail glass
Combine all ingredients and shake dry first. Add ice, shake again and serve. Garnish with a red rose petal.
The Holiday Punch category winner is John Ferretti of Woodridge, N.Y., for his Cranberry Poached Pear. A favorite dessert provided the inspiration. "There's nothing better than a brandy poached pear on a cold winter night," he commented.
Cranberry Poached Pear
2 parts Korbel California Brandy
2 parts pear liqueur
1 part cranberry juice
Splash of grenadine
Sliced pear for garnish
Glass: punch bowl – serve in wine glasses
Combine all ingredients over ice. Garnish each glass with a fresh slice of pear.