Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge Winner Announced at Tales of the Cocktail

On July 22, hundreds of cocktail enthusiasts and the Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge judging panel, consisting of Dale DeGroff, Paul Tuennerman, Alan Kropf & Jeff Dorenbush of Mutineer Magazine and Joe Michalek the Founder of Piedmont Distillers, gathered together at Tales of the Cocktail to declare the ultimate Catdaddy Moonshine cocktail.

The Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge began in April when nearly 50 recipes were submitted for consideration. Each recipe was prepared, tasted and ranked with the purpose of narrowing the entries to the Top 3 Finalists. These three mixologists were invited to present their recipes at Tales of the Cocktail, an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition, each Finalist received a 2 night stay at the legendary Hotel Monteleone, six complimentary tickets to Tales of the Cocktail seminars and $500.

The Top 3 Finalists recipes and mixologists were Mountain Moonshine Punch by Jim Kearns, New York mixologist who’s worked at some of the top bars in the city including, Pegu Club, Death & Co and Mayahuel. He is currently a bar consultant, bar manager and bartender at the acclaimed Rye House. Last Kiss by Giacomo Cuccurullo, a native Italian who started bartending at the age of 17 and is now a Bar Chef Instructor at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico. And lastly, Chinese Bootlegger by Payman Bahmani a Brooklyn-based mixologist who runs the cocktail event and consulting company Life's a Cocktail and writes a weekly cocktail column called Happy Hour

All three recipes exemplified the art of mixology and accentuated Catdaddy’s delicious, one-of-a-kind flavor (see below for complete cocktail recipes). In the end, only one mixologist could be the winner of the Judging Panel’s vote and the Golden Mason Jar Trophy. That mixologist was Payman Bahmani and his Chinese Bootlegger, a combination of Catdaddy, Oolong tea, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, agave syrup, cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters. Dale DeGroff stated that the flavors were perfectly balanced and the creative presentation in a mason jar put it over the top. The Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge attendees agreed with the Judging Panel by also selecting Chinese Bootlegger as their favorite cocktail and the winner of the People’s Choice cocktail and Moonshine Still Trophy.

Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine is one of the most unique spirits available today. Every batch is handcrafted in very small batches and is born in a copper still. Catdaddy is made from American corn and triple distilled to deliver an ultra-smooth drinking experience. Catdaddy’s one-of-a-kind flavor comes from a secret recipe using ingredients not found in any other spirit. Joe Michalek, Founder and President of Piedmont Distillers, won’t tell you what’s in it, but he will tell you the taste is a little sweet, with a hint of spice. Michalek says, “It’s fun to watch someone try Catdaddy for the first time. The response is usually the same. First they’ll say, “Wow, that’s good”, then “It’s really smooth” and finally, “What’s that taste?” The taste is familiar, but people can’t put their finger on it. All they know is that they like it.” Most often, people detect notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla or citrus, however none of these ingredients is used to craft the Catdaddy recipe.

While perfect for sipping over ice, Catdaddy has also been embraced by mixologists who want to create signature cocktails. From Los Angeles, to Seattle, to New York, to New Orleans and beyond, mixologists have found that Catdaddy’s distinctive taste brings a flavor complexity that’s unmatched by any other spirit and is the perfect complement to traditional and original cocktails alike. The Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge gave mixologists an opportunity to show off their cocktail creation prowess and explore the many uses of Catdaddy.

The recipes presented by the Top 3 Finalists of the Catdaddy Bar Chef Challenge were:

Chinese Bootlegger
Winning Cocktail, Created by Payman Bahmani.

2 ounces Catdaddy
2 ounces Oolong tea
1 ½ ounces grapefruit juice
½ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce agave syrup
¼ ounce cinnamon syrup
¼ ounce Angostura bitters

Shake over ice, strain into ice filled glass (or mason jar), garnish with slices of grapefruit and lemon.

Mountain Moonshine Punch
Created by Jim Kearns.

1 ½ ounce Catdaddy
3 sugar cubes
1 ounce soda
1 dash Angostura bitters
½ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce rum

Muddle sugar, soda and bitters. Add other ingredients & stir. Serve over ice in a highball, garnish with orange slice.

Last Kiss
Created by Giacomo Cuccurullo.

1 ounce Catdaddy
2 ½ strawberries
10 basil leaves
½ ounce clove syrup
½ ounce vodka or Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon
dried vanilla fruit

Smoke cocktail glass with vanilla fruit. Muddle strawberries, basil and syrup in mixing glass. Add spirits, shake, double strain into smoky vanilla Martini glass.

Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine is available in stores, bars and restaurants in 21 states; Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington State and West Virginia.

Piedmont Distillers is a small operation, with fewer than ten employees. The craft distillery is located in Madison, N.C., (population 2000) in the town’s former train station built in 1915. Piedmont Distillers is committed to preserving the moonshining legacy and distilling traditions that have made North Carolina the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” Coupling these traditions with one-of-a-kind recipes and a state-of-the-art distillation process has enabled Piedmont Distillers’ spirits to transcend moonshine from the backwoods, to be amongst the finest spirits available anywhere. For more information, please visit


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