Levi, Finland (Feb. 5, 2010) – In what could be called the Olympics of Mixology, 31 of the world’s best bartenders from around the globe braved arctic temperatures high atop the world here on Tuesday in hopes of capturing the 12th Annual International Finlandia Vodka Cup.
Among them was Patricia Richards from Las Vegas, Nevada. Patricia won the right to represent the U.S. after beating out six other bartenders from around the country. Though Patricia did not win the Finlandia Vodka Cup, she finished fourth, the highest finish ever for a U.S. contestant in the 12-year history of the competition.
“The Finlandia Vodka Cup was a phenomenal experience, unlike anything I have ever done in my entire life,” said Richards. “The competition was like a mini-United Nations as you have bartenders from all over the world with one thing in common, the love of mixology.”
One of the more unique components to the competition is it is held in the IceBar at the Snow Village in Levi, Finland. The environment is not only physically challenging for the competitors but normal ingredients, such as syrups and juices, react differently in the minus zero Celsius temperatures.
“After the first cocktail, my fingers were numb,” she said. “My strawberry garnishes on my first drink were literally frozen to the ice bar and I had to scrape them off. Plus, the dilution… you normally get 20-25 percent dilution from the ice in a regular setting, but because it was so cold, it did not happen.”
During the Finals, each competitor had to demonstrate his or her range of mixology talents by crafting three unique creations in the aperitif, long drink and the “Quick Mix” categories. In the “Quick Mix” category, contestants were given a mystery basket of drink ingredients 10 minutes prior to the competition. During that time, each contestant was to invent a new drink recipe and then given five additional minutes to mix the concoction. Any extra time resulted in losing valuable points. This category was meant to challenge each competitor’s mixology skills.
The ingredients in the Quick Mix basket this year included Finlandia Classic, Finlandia Tangerine Fusion, Finlandia Blackcurrant Fusion, and an assortment of fresh juices and fruits from which the bartenders could select up to four. Patricia selected Finlandia Tangerine Fusion, lime juice, a mango puree and simple syrup to deliver a well-balanced drink, which tied for 4th place in the category.
Patricia's original recipes for the competition were:
Nirvana Sour- Aperitif
1 ½ oz. Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka
1/2 oz. Aperol Aperitivo
1 small, fresh strawberry (washed & hulled)
3/4 oz. Darbo Elderflower Syrup
1 oz. Homemade Lemon Sour
Strain into a chilled martini/cocktail glass. Garnish with thin slice strawberry and small mint sprig.
Forest Berry Cooler- Long Drink
2 oz. Finlandia Wild Berries Fusion
1/4 oz. Clear Creek, Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir
2 oz. Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Darbo Lingonberry Syrup
In a Collins glass, spear peeled rosemary sprig with several defrosted cranberries.
As often happens, mixologists are called upon to improvise in situations. Because of a broken bottle, Patricia had to substitute St. Germain Elderflower liquor, which was graciously donated by the bartender from Ireland, in her first cocktail during the Finals.
“I really enjoyed the competition and would love to come back next year,” she said.
With Patricia’s talents, she just may. Congratulations to her on an impressive finish in the 12th Annual International Finlandia Vodka Cup Finals.