Winning Recipes from the Shake It Up! Competition

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.

Shake It Up competition

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

First Place

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.

Second Place

The Dayna Lee
Charles Joly, The Drawing Room, Chicago.
¼ ounce 25-year-old balsamic vinegar
¾ ounce lemon
¾ ounce 100 percent pear juice
¼ ounce agave nectar
½ ounce Averna
1 ½ ounces Courvoisier Exclusif

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake well with ice and strain into chilled coupe. Mist top of cocktail with orange oil and garnish decoratively with knotted orange coil.

Third Place

The Lovercall
Mathias Simonis, The Velvet Hour, Milwaukee.

1 ½ ounces Pyrat Rum
½ ounce Domaine de Canton
1 tangelo juice
¼ ounce balsamic vinegar
3-4 dashes Fee Brothers Mint Bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake ingredients and re-shake with ice. Strain into tall Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, grated tang zest and pinch of cinnamon.

Fourth Place

Darren West, Aria, Las Vegas.

1 ½ ounces Bulleit Bourbon
½ ounce Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur
5 strawberries
6 basil leaves
2 ounces fresh lemon sour
¾ ounce balsamic vinegar

Muddle strawberries and basil with balsamic vinegar. Add remaining ingredients, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a strawberry and basil.

Fifth Place

John Lermayer, The Florida Room, Miami.
1 ½ ounces Buillet Bourbon
½ ounce balsamic vinegar
1/4 ounce agave nectar
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3 muddled strawberries
2 basil leaves

Finalist Recipes

Spicy Secreto
Created by Daniel Gonzales, Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, N.M.

1 1/2 ounces Cabana Cachaca
3/4 ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 jalapeno slices
2 slices cucumber
2 ounces fresh sour
New Mexican Red Chile Rim

Muddle jalapeno, cucumber and 1 ounce fresh sour. Rim a tall glass with red chile. Add the remaining liquid ingredients; shake and double strain over ice. Garnish with two green chile chopsticks.

One Night in Rio
Developed by Charles Joly, The Drawing Room, Chicago.

1 1/2 ounces Cabana Cachaca
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce Monin Agave Nectar
5 opal basil leaves

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass; add ice and shake. Strain through sieve into a Highball glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish: Grapefruit peel and Opal Basil “Fluerette.”

The Standard
Created by Mathias Simonis of The Velvet Hour, Milwaukee.

1 ounce Plymouth Gin
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
1/2 ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh lemon
3-4 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
Egg White

Combine all ingredients in mixing tin and dry shake. Add ice and reshake, then strain into a Highball glass over ice. Garnish with a rhubarb stalk with Luxardo Maraschino cherry skewer.

The Red Neck (Maker’s Bottle Neck)
Developed by Darren West, Aria, Las Vegas.

1 1/2 ounces Maker’s Mark
1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton
1 1/2 ounces fresh apple juice
1 ounce fresh Lemon sour
1 ounce fresh pear juice
Dash of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice; strain into a Highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with apple (angles) flower.

Pineapple X-press
Created by John Lermayer of The Florida Room, Miami.

1 ounce Domain de Canton
1/2 ounce Pernod Absinthe
1 ounce coconut water
4 large pineapple chucks or 1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
5 sage leaves
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Muddle pineapple* and add all ingredients. Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with a pineapple disc pierced with sage leaves on a short pick.
*May be fresh squeezed pineapple juice for time

Mango Mia
Created by Victoria D'Amato-Moran, Cent'Anni Cocktail Consulting in San Francisco. Winner of the Best Garnish award.

Mango Mia Cocktail

2 ounces Chinaco Reposado Tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Yellow Chartruese
5 drops Grapefruit bitters
1/2 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces mango puree

Build all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and shake vigorously for 60 shakes to get dilution from ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a mango ribbon rolled into a rosette, gilded with 24K Italian Gold Powder, filled with mango balls and lemon leaves.

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