NEW ORLEANS -- Tales of the Cocktail hosted the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) Pina Colada Competition on July 22, 2011, in New Orleans, challenging 17 of the world's best bartenders from across the country to create an original version of a Pina Colada recipe. Sponsored by Bacardi Rums and In the Mix Magazine, the event urged participants to take their bar tools and shake up new takes on this classic drink.
This storied cocktail was turned over to finalists representing their respective USBG chapters from the following locations: Austin; Chicago; Cincinnati; Connecticut; Denver; Hawaii; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; New York; North Texas; Northern California; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and St. Louis.
Pina Colada Champion Winners:
1st Place Judges' Choice -- Debbi Peek from Chicago created the "No Passport Required"
1st Place People's Choice -- Matt Meyers from Las Vegas created the "Thai Pina Colada"
David Nepove, President, United States Bartenders Guild; Debbi Peek, "Judges' Choice" winner at the Pina Colada Competition sponsored by Bacardi at Tales of the Cocktail on July 22, 2011; Dan Dunn, radio host, magazine columnist and author; Juan Rovira, Chief Marketing Officer, Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.)
As the first place Judges' Choice champion, Debbi Peek of Chicago received a one-of-a-kind trophy, along with a check for $1,500 and a spot at the World Cocktail Competition in Warsaw, Poland, (compliments of USBG). Debbi's cocktail, "No Passport Required" was praised for its technical precision and complimentary flavors.
The People's Choice winner, Matt Meyers, Las Vegas received the majority vote of the 550 attendees at the competition and a one-of-a-kind trophy to commemorate the win. Matt's cocktail, "Thai Pina Colada," was applauded for its unique presentation -- the Thai-inspired cocktail was perfectly paired with spicy cashews to create an ultimate flavor experience.
"The goal of the USBG Pina Colada competition at Tales of the Cocktail was to inspire today's generation of bartenders to re-imagine this classic cocktail and take it forward into the second golden age of cocktails," said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail. "The winning cocktails had true balance and complexity of flavor and deserve their place in history along side the Original Pina Colada."
"As the largest network of professional bartenders and mixologists, the USBG was honored to work with BACARDI and In the Mix Magazine on an event that brings together the trade community and celebrates the craft of mixology," said David Nepove, president, United States Bartenders' Guild. "The bartenders invited to compete set the standard for the profession across the country and we were thrilled with enthusiasm this group showed using BACARDI rum to reinvent the Piña Colada."
"In 1862, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, Don Facundo Bacardi revolutionized the spirits industry when he created BACARDI Superior Rum," said Toby Whitmoyer, vice president and brand managing director of rums at Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. "Since then, BACARDI has become recognized as the world's most mixable and sociable spirit, bringing people together around the best cocktails and best experiences. The Pina Colada is a key part of that legacy and it's amazing to see these talented bartenders carry that legacy forward with their new takes of this legendary drink."
Dan Dunn, a.k.a. "The Imbiber," served as the evening's host. The panel of judges featured some of the foremost authorities on cocktails. Technical judges included: USBG National President David Nepove, USBG National Past President Livio Lauro, and Best Technical Performance at the National 2009 USBG Cocktail Contest winner Ronaldo Colli. Tasting judges included: USBG Vice President Aaron Gregory Smith, Bacardi Brand Master Juan Coronado, Bacardi Brand Master David Cid, Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador David Cordoba and Managing Editor of In the Mix Magazine Mike Maven.
Bartenders were judged according to the following criteria: technical skills and presentation; appearance; aroma; balance of flavors; taste; creativity; and the overall appeal of character. All participants were required to use rum as the base spirit and Bacardi Superior Rum, the original, mixable light-bodied clear rum was preferred. A preliminary group of judges, consisting of members from USBG National and Tales of the Cocktail, voted on the best qualifying round recipes for each chapter.