DeKuyper, the best-selling line of cordials and liqueurs in the U.S., hosted the first DeKuyper MixMasters National Challenge on Thursday, November 5 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The twelve competing mixologists won regional competitions in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver earlier this year and came together in the Big Easy to participate in several rounds of “spirited” competition.
Contestants were judged on their skill and creativity in making their own, unique cocktails using the more than 60 flavors in the DeKuyper portfolio and other Beam Global products. The “People’s Choice” warm up round kicked off the event, where attendees sampled and voted on their favorites from the 12 winning drinks from the regional competitions. Next up was the “Rock On!” round, where contestants made a simple on-the-rocks drink that was quick to prepare and even quicker to impress. For the “Hot Shots!” round, mixologists were pitted against one another to uncover the next “it” shot. For the final round, the “Judge’s Freestyle,” all drink categories were fair game to the contestants, who were at the mercy of the DeKuyper “Wheel of Ingredients” for quick thinking and innovative ideas.
Ricky Gomez, a bartender and mixologist at the Cure Bar in New Orleans, was unanimously awarded the $10,000 prize and title of “Mix Master” for earning the highest score in each round based on his cocktails’ taste, appearance, name creativity, simplicity and originality.
National Challenge judges included top industry leaders, including:
The “King of the Cocktail” Dale DeGroff,
Ann Tuennerman, Tales of the Cocktail founder,
Philip Raimondo, Beam Global Spirits & Wine master mixologist, and
Bobby “G” Gleason, Beam Global Spirits & Wine master mixologist and manager of on-premise training.
Finale Winning Recipes
Ricky Gomez, The Cure Bar, New Orleans
People’s Choice Drink:
Truck Float #9
1 part Red Stag by Jim Beam
1/2 part DeKuyper Hazelnut
1 part ginger ale
Place Red Stag by Jim Beam and DeKuyper Hazelnut in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top off with ginger ale and gently stir once more. Garnish with an orange zest.
Rock On! Drink:
3 parts Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
1 part DeKuyper Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps
2 parts spiced apple cider
Place all ingredients in a shaker tin. Add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest, wrapped around apple melon ball, which has been studded with cloves and flavored.
Hot Shots! Drink:
3 parts El Tesoro Anejo Tequila
1 part DeKuyper Ragin Root Beer
1 part heavy cream
4 mint leaves
Place all ingredients in a shaker tin (including mint, do not muddle). Add ice and shake. Strain into lowball glass with a double strain through a tea strainer. Garnish with mint sprig.
Judges Freestyle Drink:
M.I.B. - Missing In Baller (as in melon baller)
3 parts Hornitos Reposado Tequila
1 part DeKuyper Melon Liquor
3 parts blood orange soda
Place Hornitos and DeKuyper in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top off with blood orange soda and stir once more. Garnish with an apple wedge.