Cocktails with a Creative Twist
There was a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on as top bartenders, mixologists, and cocktail gurus from across the country congregated under one roof to compete for the title of Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB 2017), sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin.
Fancy, colourful concoctions flowed freely throughout the night during the event, held in Leslieville’s District 28. All 10 Canadian finalists created their unique cocktails with Bombay Sapphire Gin as a base, but added their own special twists and turns; watermelon rinds, coriander, oolong tea dust, chili stems, homemade tinctures, syrups, and cordials are just some of the unorthodox ingredients that were used in these specialty beverages.
“Cocktails provide a really interesting opportunity in that there’s very little rigid structure. There are a handful of recipes that set the foundation for all drinks,” says Judge Alex Day of New York’s Death and Co. cocktail bar. He’s looking for a certain level of understanding about balance within the drink recipe, to make sure that ingredients, measurements, and combinations all work together in order to be pleasant and delicious.
Sometimes a cocktail is more than just a drink.
But he says that’s just the technical aspect of the competition, “What I really love is that it’s all about narrative; it’s about the story that lives within the cocktail in a single moment.”
These designer drinks all had meaningful stories, and each bartender was more than happy to tell their cock-tale (sorry, had to be written). They drew on experiences, motivations, and inspirations that were important in their lives, and they wanted to deliver that feeling to others through their craft. Olivia Povarchook from Vancouver was inspired by a simple desire to create the perfect drink for a bartender’s day off.
Matthew Benevoli, also of Vancouver, wanted to recreate some of his favourite moments that he shares with his wife, “We were watching a thunderstorm roll in, and our tradition is to turn off all the lights, disconnect from our phones, drink gin and tonics on our patio, and watch the storm come in.” Matthew says his concept was to encompass the essence of that experience, “We wanted to take that smouldering dry smoke from when the lightning strikes and the sweet smell of herbs when the breeze rolls in across the ground.”
Toronto’s own Tyler Newsome from LoPan, the cocktail lounge upstairs at DaiLo, introduced a very different philosophy behind his unique beverage, “This cocktail is built around sustainable practices within a restaurant.” He says that while restaurant kitchens are pretty good with using almost all ingredients one way or another, bars have a tendency to have a lot more waste, “We trim a lot of stuff, we try to make things pretty and by doing that a lot of stuff gets thrown in the garbage. This cocktail is 100% built from what would otherwise go into the garbage at our restaurant.” Don’t be put off by all that trash talk; Tyler’s “Prince and the Pauper” cocktail was smooth, delicious, and environmentally friendly.
And The Winner Is…
But let’s get down to it. Who won the Canadian semi-finals for the Most Imaginative Bartender 2017?
Congrats to Timo Salimaki of Calgary’s The Living Room Restaurant and Bar! His original, imaginative yet simple cocktail won the judges over. He’s going on to represent Canada at the global finals in the UK in August.
Check out the winning recipe for Timo’s top cocktail!
“The Mirepoix Experience”
- 2oz Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
- 5oz Cointreau
- 75oz Spiced Mirepoix Tincture
- 5oz Ginger Syrup
- 5oz Lemon Juice
- 2 dashes Bittercube Orange Bitters
Good luck in the finals for the Most Imaginative Bartender !