The 12th annual International Finlandia Vodka Cup competition took place earlier this month from high above the arctic circle, and Wynn Las Vegas mixologist and one of our favorite cocktail queens, Patricia Richards, earned a fourth place finish, the highest ever for an American competitor in the event.
The competition is unique not only because it serves as the mixology world’s version of the Olympics, with competitors from more than two dozen nations around the globe, but also because of the harsh conditions competitors have to face at the Snow Village in Levi, Finland, where the competition is held each year. As if the weather alone isn’t enough to deal with, ingredients like juices and syrups react differently to the frigid temperatures, making the competition that much more difficult. “After the first cocktail, my fingers were numb,” Richards said. “My strawberry garnishes on my first drink were literally frozen to the ice bar and I had to scrape them off. Plus, the dilution … you normally get 20-25 percent dilution from the ice in a regular setting, but because it was so cold, it did not happen.”
During the finals, competitors had to demonstrate a wide range of abilities by creating three concoctions: one aperitif, one long drink and one original recipe from a mystery basket of ingredients. For her quick mix entry, Richards choose Finlandia Tangerine Fusion and mixed it with lime juice, mango puree and simple syrup to deliver a cocktail the judges called incredibly balanced; the creation helped boost her to a fourth place finish.
When asked about her impressions of the competition, the beautiful barhop noted, “The Finlandia Vodka Cup was a phenomenal experience, unlike anything I have ever done in my entire life. The competition was like a mini-United Nations, as you have bartenders from all over the world with one thing in common, the love of mixology.” Congratulations Patricia, and thanks for representing the United States with so much style and class and for raising the bar for American participants in the future!