Lincoln Journal Star: Wilderness Ridge Bartender Mixing it Up in National Competition

From Lincoln Journal Star:

After a liquor rep approached Wilderness Ridge mixologist Jill Cockson about competing for a spot in the United States Bartenders’ Guild Most Inspired Bartender contest, she seized on the word “inspired.”

The contest is sponsored by GQ Magazine and Bombay Sapphire, so Cockson started to peruse the dry gin’s ingredients to see which one inspired her.

She found it when she came across some information about the spicy, but fruity cubeb pepper -- specifically, that it was used as a tool in 17th-century Catholic exorcisms.

From that was born Cockson’s Mumbai Exorcism, a cocktail that brings out the flavor of the cubeb pepper, among others, after she sets it aflame and extinguishes it.

“There’s great metaphor there,” said Cockson, who is a big believer in making an experience around a cocktail.

She told judges about the exorcism connection as she served her cocktail last Monday at the regional competition, which took place at Omaha’s Magnolia Hotel. Cockson said she thinks the story around her drink helped her advance past 13 other skilled Nebraska bartenders and on to the national competition, which begins Sept. 9 in Las Vegas.

Cockson has tended bar at Wilderness Ridge for about two years, and worked locally at Starlight Lounge and Doc’s Place before that. She bartended while in college in Kansas City, too.

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