NEW YORK, NY, JULY 29 – The West Coast Team (aka The Blue Team) captured first place in the inaugural CABANA CACHAÇA Bartender Olympics held at this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans on July 22. The team, captained by Walter Moore and Alex Straus and made up of mixologists Jason Bran, Julian Cox, Josh Harris and Scott Baird, was judged on speed, knowledge and creativity.
Matti Anttila, founder and president of CABANA CACHAÇA said, “With the Olympics headed to Brazil in 2016, it was only natural for Cabana Cachaça to host the first-ever Bartender Olympics. Our event was Authentically Brasilian with samba beats fueling the excitement as crowds enjoyed cocktails and a show!”
A close second went to the Southeast team led by Miami’s Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi and featuring Julio Cabrera, Robert Ortenzio, John Lermayer and Tommy Merolla. Co-captains Charles Joly, Tim Lacey and Ted Kilgore led Matt Seiter, Josh Pearson, Lynn House and Debbie Peek to a third place finish for the Midwest. Although the Northeast and Home team brought enormous talent and excitement, they weren’t able to muddle their way onto the winner’s podium. Each region came dressed to the nines in their team colors with feather boas, customized t-shirts and super soaker accessories. From mini musclemen to silly string, the crowd was endlessly entertained.
The Southeast took an early lead after the speed round, but everyone else made up ground in the knowledge round. It all came down to the creativity round in which team had to create a CABANA CACHAÇA cocktail using a pantry of ingredients and the secret ingredient – local New Orleans Abita Amber beer. “It was an incredibly close competition, but the Canopy Crawler gave the West Coast the lead they needed to win,” said Anttila.
The final scores were calculated by esteemed judges Francesco LaFranconi, Director of Mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits, Bridget Albert, Master Mixologist and founder of Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois Academy of Mixology and Culinary Education Program and author of Market Fresh Mixology and Jared Brown, founder of Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini, co-founder of New Orleans’ Museum of the American Cocktail and author of many spirit-focused books including The Soul Of Brasil, an amazing history of the world's third largest selling spirit: cachaça. “I was truly impressed by the contestants’ knowledge of Cabana Cachaça and the category as a whole,” said Judge Jared Brown. “It was an honor to be a part of this event, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to choose a winner from this pool of talent!”
The Canopy Crawler
3 muddled pitted cherries
1 lime muddled
1/2 oz lime juice
1 oz cane syrup
2 oz Cabana Cachaça
1/2 oz Abita Amber beer
3 dashes bon vivant gold coast bitters
Muddle cherries and lime. Combine ingredients over ice, shake and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a pitted cherry and lime wheel.
Black Team: Representing the Northeast, captained by Tim Cooper and Josh Durr: Kevin Martin from Boston’s Eastern Standard will join New York’s Justin Noel from the Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar, Candice Coy from the Surf Lodge and Moses Laboy from Five & Diamond.
Red Team: The Home Team representing New Orleans and Texas, co-captained by Ricky Gomez and Bill Norris: New Orleans’ Adam “Rex” Scott of Napoleon’s Itch and Cole Newton from the Coquette Bistro & Wine Bar will be joined the Texas duo of Jeff Boley from Austin’s Paggi House and Joseph Mykal Le from the Aka Sushi House in Houston.