On Monday, September 10, 50 of the top mixologists from the U.S. and Canada descended on Las Vegas for the Unites States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) Bartender Summit, sponsored by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin and GQ Magazine, each of them having already proven themselves as their hometown's mixology master. After two days of rigorous cocktail-making, the USBG announced Portland's Nathan Gerdes as the nation's "Most Imaginative Bartender." Gerdes will be featured both inside and on a special edition cover of GQ Magazine's December 2012 Man of the Year issue alongside his cocktail, the Hanoi Strip Sour.
This year, the "Most Imaginative Bartender" program traveled to more than forty U.S. cities and four Canadian cities to attract the highest caliber of talent to attend the Las Vegas Summit. Now in its sixth year, the search will journey overseas for the second time in May 2013 to identify an internationally recognized leader in bartending. This newly appointed global recognition program has encouraged mixologists everywhere to push the boundaries of a rapidly evolving cocktail culture to it greatest potential. The top mixologist from the Las Vegas Summit will have a once in a lifetime shot at representing his country during the Global Bartender Summit in Tuscany next spring - a clear indication of how the Most Imaginative Bartender search has become a pillar in the industry. Having increased from 240 entries and 16 cities at its inception to 1,500 bartenders and 44 cities today, the program is proud to continue shining a spotlight on undiscovered talent around the world.
The summit began in Las Vegas on Sunday, September 9(th), when all 50 bartenders prepared their inspired cocktails for an elite panel of USBG representatives and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE brand ambassadors. The following night, 10 select mixologists presented a new and original BOMBAY SAPPHIRE cocktail toa packed house of guests at the final event a Las Vegas nightclub, as well as the judges for the evening, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Global Brand Ambassador Raj Nagra and USBG representatives Armando Rosario and Livio Lauro.
After sampling the cocktails, tallying guest ballots and taking the popular vote into consideration, the panel reached the unanimous decision that Nathan Gerdes and his Hanoi Strip Sour cocktail, made with BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin, fresh lime juice, a specialty "Pho" syrup and St. Germain, was the nation's "Most Imaginative."
Gerdes said that the experience has been life-altering and added, "I'm still trying to process the last wild, crazy and wonderful 48 hours. To be singled out among 50 of the most respectable bartenders in the country is an incredible honor."
Senior brand manager for the House of BOMBAY, Richard McLeod, shared, "In our 6th year of the 'Most Imaginative Bartender' Competition, it has been gratifying to witness the careers of past contestants thrive. The program has also played an undeniably pivotal role in recognizing up-and-coming cocktail cities such as Boulder, Houston and Gerdes' hometown of Portland."
In 2012, Gerdes and his Hanoi Strip Sour cocktail stand as a classic example of the passion and ingenuity necessary to be named the nation's "Most Imaginative Bartender." In just seven months, Gerdes will proudly represent the United States in the 2013 Global Bartender Summit in Tuscany, where a new leading innovator in mixology will once again be crowned the "World's Most Imaginative Bartender."
Below is Nathan Gerdes' winning cocktail recipe:
Hanoi Strip Sour
2 parts BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin
¾ part fresh lime juice
¾ part Pho specialty syrup*
¼ part St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
Shake and serve in an old-fashioned glass on the rocks.
Garnish with a lime wheel and Thai basil sprig.
*Pho specialty syrup:
3 cups of sugar combined with 3 cups of water for simple syrup
2 medium sized jalapeno peppers
1 cup of cilantro leaves
2 cups of Thai basil leaves
1 cup of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons of grains of paradise
4 whole limes, sliced
Place ingredients in a pot and bring to a light boil.
Remove from heat and let cool. Strain and bottle.