Category: contest
Rule 2

Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards 2011

I recently got a tip from fellow cocktail blogger, Michael Dietsch, that several of our friends and fellows were nominated by Saveur magazine for their annual awards in the category of Best Cocktail Blog. You have to register to vote for your favorite, which is OK, but you also have to register just to see the list of nominees, which is kinda lame. They also give no info on why they nominated each contestant, so I'll do it for you. Cask Strength is in what I call the Pro-Blogger Category. Andrew Bohrer is a Seattle-area bartender and very funny fellow. He blogs on a wide variety of subjects and drink styles. My favorite of his work is his current series 10 Rules of Drinking Like a Man (now up to number six). Alcademics is the personal booze musings of professional writer Camper English. Camper gets to travel extensively around the country and world covering the liquor industry (this is why I hate him), and a lot of the peripheral stuff he's not being paid to write about ends up on Alcademics. More importantly, he also is a an inveterate cocktail experimenter and the internet's leading ice geek (and that is why I love him). Cocktailians is the cocktailian project of Sam Meyer, a.k.a. Vidiot. It's an entertaining collection of anecdotes, drink recipes, and an eternal source of Rule 2 linky goodness. Another Pro-Blogger blog, Drink Dogma, is the project of Bobby Heugel. Bobby is one of my, and I suspect many cocktail bloggers', personal heroes, in that he has gone from blogger to co-owner and creator of one of the country's truly great craft cocktail bars, Anvil in Houston, Texas. During Anvil's early stages of development, his blogging really fell off (I wonder why), but he has been writing much more lately, with great posts on the industry, drinks, and the bartending lifestyle. Jeffrey Morganthaler's eponymous blog is one of the granddaddys of the Cocktailosphere. One of Oregon's leading bartenders, Jeffrey writes one of the more professionally utilitarian blogs out there. Many of his posts (though not all) are little reference resources that remain useful indefinitely. One such post is his Ginger Beer Brewing instruction that I once called The Greatest Cocktail Blog Post Ever. Last (but only on the list) is the inimitable Kaiser Penguin. I'm tempted to call him the one and only "Garnishblogger", but Rick does a lot more than that. He also is great with housemade ingredients, has an unhealthy obsession with Fernet Branca, and does some very fun thought pieces as well. That is the six. Who am I voting for? Not telling, except to say that I am voting, and so should you!abc
Rule 5

AskMen’s Cocktail War Contest

Above the Post Update: I'm in the finals! You can vote for me here, or you can just Tweet the following: I want @dawinship's #9 to win the @AskMen_com & @Liquordotcom #CocktailWar AskMen, the "men's lifestyle" portal, is running a contest right now, in conjunction with that's worth a mention.
Hey, Doug! What's a "men's lifestyle portal"?
It's an online magazine where they have pictures of almost famous pretty women and talk about cars, pretty women, health issues, the health issues of meeting pretty women, clothes, clothes almost on pretty women, cocktails, and pretty women drinking cocktails. They also do lots of product reviews and promotions.
Oh, I see. In other words, your dream job.
Exactly. And will you two butt out? This was supposed to to be a quick hit post... a glorified SideBlog.
Nothing is brief when we get involved, Doug!
Nothing is brief when YOU get involved, Doug!
Shut up. Anyway, I find the contest interesting in that it is one of those hybrid contest/buzz creator thingies that use Twitter. The basic idea is for you to tweet your favorite cocktail recipe, and they will choose the top ten. (Here's my tweet. Betcha can't guess what drink I suggested!) Then the buzz thing goes on as they watch Twitter and the comments to see who gets the most buzz. The winner will receive the handsome $150 basket of mixological goodies you see above. The process is a bit more involved than that (of course) and you can read how to enter here. I'll conclude, with a nod to Rule 5, by noting a lovely convergence of the AskMen subject matter upon the Pegu world. I'm sure your eye will be drawn, as is mine, to the lovely bottles of Cointreau, that essential ingredient in the world's best cocktail. While the cocktail Miss Dita Von Teese is holding seems a bit red for a Pegu, I'm sure that's just a color-balance issue.... abc

Chopped Mixology Second Round Results

Monday was the second round of the Chopped Mixology Competition at Mozaik in the Columbus Arena District. (First round results here) I had the very cool opportunity to be a judge this time around, and it was a great time. This week's winner was Zak Renzetti-Voit, who bartends at Black Olive. Zak benefited from some extensive experience in competitive mixology. He was one of Columbus' Iron Bartenders, and also was a national finalist in the Bombay Sapphire Most Inspired Bartender competition in Las Vegas.

Zak Renzetti-Voit of Black Olive. Gin-haters, should go see him. He has a challenge for you....
The first round was marked by the exceptional looks of all the drinks. Among the secret ingredients that each contestant had to use in his or her drink were Finlandia Vodka and star fruit. (I never wrote down the exact lists, bad journalist! No cookie!) Each of the potions we were presented had that, "Ooh. What is that she's having, bartender?" appearance.

Larry of J. Liu. He specializes in champagne cocktails, not three foot putts. Honest.
In fact, the first contestant to be chopped fell afoul of making his drink too pretty. Larry, who has been bar manager at J. Liu's Dublin location almost since it opened, wanted the beautiful layered appearance you can just make out above in his Tidal Wave creation. But the separation of flavors made a well-conceived recipe taste unbalanced. Also, the very nifty lime boat garnishes he made each capsized as he brought the drinks over to us. There are fifty Poseidon Adventure jokes to be made, especially given the drink name of Tidal Wave, so I'll leave them to you, dear reader, to make for yourself. One area that this week's contestants were much stronger on than last's was in drink naming. I find that to be an important part of the scoring chart.

Bee, representing the Scarlett and Grey Café. Bee also creates drinks at Ozone
The next round won me and the other judges no friends. Jack Daniels lead the secret ingredients, along with dried chili peppers. We got three utterly different drinks this round, in taste and appearance. The other judges and I took some time to make a decision here. The one who got chopped was Bee, who make a drink she called S'Mores. It was a cream-based highball with a lovely strawberry garnish. And it tasted really good, maybe the best of the round. But the problem was that neither of the two secret ingredients I mentioned were apparent at all in her final product. When I explained this as we announced our decision, I got us pretty comprehensively booed by Bee's section of the crowd. Actually, getting booed aside, the crowd is one of the really fun things about this competition. Each contestant has a lot of support among the multitude, and there is a lot of cheering and hollering. Also, many of the contestants make use of the stacks of shot glasses around them as they are formulating their entries, trying variations out on the fans clustered around them as they work. While Michael and Zak prepared for the final challenge, Bee and Larry came back out for a lightning round shot contest. They formulated and served up shots for the crowd as quickly as possible in a naked attempt to convince them to vote for them for the consolation prize.

Michael, of Hyde Park on the Cap in the Short North, the swankiest restaurant located on a freeway overpass on Earth. When you visit, ask him for his family's secret recipe Manhattan.
The last round featured Southern Comfort, pecans, Fee's Aztec Chocolate Bitters, and apple butter! I was impressed by how decisively both guys embarked on the challenge here. Zak was yelling for eggs, while Michael crumbled pecans and tossed the large crumbs in the bitters. Both chose to rim their cocktail glasses with the apple butter. Michael embedded the pecans in the butter, while Zak dipped his in toasted coconut. To be honest, when I saw the ingredient list, I didn't know what to think, and had steeled myself for a strange third round. But these two drinks were the best of the night. Michael's Apple Pecan Peach Rob Roy was a solid drink that looked and tasted great. If you had told me that single-malt and SoCo could work well together, I'd have scoffed mightily. I'd have been wrong. But Zak's Breakfast Before Bed was just a bit better. His float of whipped egg whites added both visual interest and some nice smoothness as well. The bitters demonstrated why they are such an important part of modern cocktailia, melding and punching up the other flavors very well. We judges enjoyed the drinks for this last round, but not making our final decision. If one of these guys had had the grace to make a clunker in the final round, we could have kicked back and relaxed. But noooo! We had to go back through all our scratched out notes from the first two rounds and ask each other a lot of questions, when we could have been enjoying the drinks. In the end, I think we made the right decision. This was a very strong field, with our two finalists last night both being Iron Bartender veterans. With Cris, who won week one, that is all the Iron Bartenders we'll have in this competition. The fourth contestant from that event, Brandon Bowsher, is the organizer of Chopped Mixology, and thus won't be competing. (Also, he only has so many hands to nearly cut off during bartending competitions...) As I have said here before, the thing that most impresses me about Brandon is how he learns from experience. This week's event ran faster and more smoothly than last. The crowd was larger, and Brandon and company did an even better job of keeping them involved directly in the event. It really is a great party, as well as a legitimate, interesting competition. I hope you'll come down for the next few Mondays and join in. Cheer on your favorite bartender, or go shopping among the contestants for a new one!abc
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