5th Annual Bärenjäger Bartending Competition Was All Abuzz
October 6th, one of Manhattan's best new beer venues - The Flatiron Hall hosted Bärenjäger’s Fifth Annual National Bartending Competition. For those not familiar with Bärenjäger - It's a distinctive honey liqueur made in Germany and imported to the USA by the Sidney Frank Importing Company, Inc.
For the last five years, Bärenjäger has reached out to the far corners of the national bartending community and brought forward the best and most original cocktail shakers and movers. The chosen few are brought to New York to compete for exciting prizes, as well as, industry recognition. This year the prizes were $1000 awarded to the Crowd Favorite and a trip to Berlin for the first place winner. As in years past, the entries were registered and reviewed by Sidney Frank, and out of 450 qualifying bartenders only six were chosen to go to NYC to compete.
They standout six cocktails were:
- Black Gold by Megan Bardoe, Miami, FL
- Oaxacan On Sunshine by Jason Patz, Denver, CO
- Hair of the Bear by James Moore, Columbus, OH
- Jorge's Bare! by Jason Holstein, Wilmington, DE
- Oh, honey honey by Patricia L Gavin, Minneapolis, MN
- Sorcerer by Michael Powers, Tulsa, OK
Throughout the night the selected six were stress tested on all categories by the crowd of 300 Bärenjäger enthusiasts, spirits industry insiders and judges. The enthusiasts and insiders voted via bee-themed ballots to choose a crowd favorite. Customer service, portion control, batching, taste and
visual appeal were just a few of the categories the judges used to pick out a winner. Each judge, a master and leader in their field.
- Alex Guarnaschelli - Iron Chef and world-renowned Executive Chef at New York City’s Butter restaurant
- Andrew Knowlton - Restaurant & Drinks Editor Bon Appétit Magazine
- Gary Regan - Author of The Joy of Mixology and host of gazregan.com
- Leo Robitschek - Bar Director at Made Nice: Eleven Madison Park and the bars at the NoMad Hotel
- Sean Kenyon - Tales of the Cocktail 2014 American Bartender of the Year and proprietor of Williams & Graham in Denver, CO
After several sips of each cocktail, two winners emerged from the competing six. The crowd favorite and winner of $1000 went to Mr. Michael Powers from Tulsa with cocktail The Sorcerer (named after the 1967 Miles Davis album.)
- .75 oz/23 ml Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
- 1.5 oz/44ml Johnny Walker Black
- .75 oz/23 ml Aperol
- .75 oz/23 ml Sour mix (1/2 fresh lemon juice, 1/2 simple syrup)
- 4 dashes Dashfire Vintage Orange No. 1 Bitters
- Garnish: Lime horse neck peel.
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish.
This slightly sweet yet, smoky intoxicant won the crowd (and myself) over with its accessible ingredients and deliciousness. It presented jazzy notes and honeyed tones that brought out the talent of the maker but the base liqueur as well.
First prize went to Megan Bardoe and her take on the classic Manhattan cocktail. Megan used Bärenjäger and Suze to enhance and re mystify a cocktail that everyone has come to know and love. Her tribute to the
classic was a tasty breathe of originality that managed to surprise the judges and bring home the gold.
- 1 oz/30ml Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
- 2 oz/60 ml Michter's Rye Whiskey
- .25 oz/7.4 ml Suze Saveur d'autrefois
- 3 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
- Garnish: Filthy Food Black Cherry
In a mixing glass, add all ingredients except the cherry garnish with ice and stir. Strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with cherry in bottom of the glass.
Bärenjäeger's competition managed to bring out the best in the contestants and delivered the fun to a crowd of fans and professionals. Competitions like this showcase extraordinary bartenders and give the general public a peek behind the curtain. The only thing we are left wanting for is next year - to see who makes the cut and who takes home the glory.