Spirited News from Cognac, Las Vegas, Manhattan

Last year, 25 bartenders battled it out on stage at the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas during Shake It Up!, the mixology competition sponsored by Nightclub & Bar and Southern Wine & Spirits. For the 2011 event, they’ll do the same, but the stakes are much higher: this year, the winner will walk away with $15,000. Interested bartenders can visit www.ncbshow.com/shake-it-up-2011 to enter; deadline for entry is Jan. 27. Submitted recipes will be judged and up to 25 contestants will be picked as finalists. Entrants must currently be employed as bartenders to compete.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is allowing popular vote on-line to determine which educational seminars will make the final list for the five day event May 13-17. More than 80 seminar ideas will be competing on the Classic's website, www.manhattancocktailclassic.com, and will run now through midnight Feb. 15. The seminars will take place at Astor Center during the Classic on May 13-17.

No grass growing under Gaz Regan’s feet: he, Dushan Zaric and Aisha Sharpe have announced the creation of The Institute for Mindful Bartending. Regan says, “The mindful bartender sets his/her intentions to be of service to guests before each and every shift. Mindful bartenders strive constantly to be aware of what they are doing, to engage with customers in a manner that lets the guest know that they are the bartender's priority, and they try to react to each and every situation in the bar in a way that leads to the best possible outcome for all involved. Mindful bartenders attract customer loyalty, bigger tips, and they help tremendously toward helping the people with whom they work come together as a happy team who genuinely care about being of service to others.” Curious? The talented trio will undertake a workshop series this year (dates to be determined). Find out more by telling Regan what you are doing to benefit your guests and co-workers at [email protected]

This week, Cognac hosts top bartenders and sommeliers and bartenders from around the world for the fourth annual International Cognac Summit (ICS). Each year, participants receive a special challenge: in 2008, guests created a new cocktail called the Summit; in 2009, they invented the Cognac Wheel of Aromas; and in 2010 they revisited classic Cognac cocktails. This year, the group will measure the aromatic persistence of Cognac, attempting to measure their sensations on the palate while tasting Cognac. U.S. participants include Anani Lawson (sommelier, Per Se, NY); Chris Nelson (sommelier, The Modern, NY); Michele Duval (consultant, Ocean Properties); Jonathan Pogash (mixologist and consultant); Marcos Tello (mixologist and consultant, The Edison, CA); and Andy Seymour (mixologist and consultant, aka Wine Geek). They’ll join international guests Thomas Sornicelli (chief sommelier, The Ritz Carlton, London); Nicolas Peri (barman, Hôtel Burgundy, Paris); and Evangelos Patas (chief sommelier, Délice, Stuttgart).

Marcelo Nascimento from Austin took the 2011 Woodford Reserve Master of the Manhattan competition in New York this month. His “Voodoo Manhattan” was reviewed by Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris, spirits journalist Paul Pacult, Whiskycast creator Mark Gillespie, and Douglass Miller from the Culinary Institute of America. Nascimento and the 10 other participants' cocktails were critiqued on creativity, ingredients, presentation and taste.

Voodoo Manhattan
2.5 oz. Woodford Reserve
.5 oz. Averna Amaro
.5 oz. Clément Creole Shrubb
.5 barspoon pink peppercorns
Garnish with skewered blood orange and flamed orange peel.

Jim Rutledge will be the first distiller to speak at Cocktail Bill Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts in San Francisco January 27. Four Roses Master Distiller Rutledge will lead a tasting and share stories of working at Four Roses for nearly 40 years. Guests will taste Four Roses Yellow Label, Limited Edition and Small Batch Four Roses Bourbon. Get tickets here - http://4rosesbourbonseminar-efbevent.eventbrite.com/

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