Champion mixologist Misty Baker, representing DogBar, was announced today at Ryan & Wood Distillery as the winner of the second “Spirit of Gloucester Cocktail Contests” with gin-based “Knockabout Jell-O™ Shots”. The contest is being held at each of the three Downtown Gloucester Block Parties of 2013 and Block Party Organizers designed it to increase the connectivity and upward momentum between the Sponsoring Supporter Ryan & Wood Distillery, local restaurants and the block party participants.
Gloucester mixologists from the following restaurants accepted the challenge to create a winning cocktail using local distillery Ryan & Wood’s Knockabout Gin™: Giuseppe’s, Ohana, Alchemy, DogBar and Lat43.
Block partyers tried sample sizes of the competing cocktails, which were also offered for sale that night. They then voted for their favorite by placing a wooden nickel, distributed to the restaurants by the sponsor, in the cask that had that restaurant’s names branded into it.
Like last time, the votes were very close and the winner, Baker, finished with only eight more votes than the mixologist in second place. When asked how she came up with her creation she said “I decided to do something evocative of my hometown of New Orleans where August means fun summer drinks. We decided to keep it simple: No need to lose sleep over it! And what party is complete without jungle juice and Jell-O™ shots? DogBar is the Party of the Block Party and so we decided to go all of the way.
Baker did just that, making her own tonic water, 6 cups of which she simmered to a boil before adding in 12 T unflavored gelatin, whisking in 4 cups of Knockabout Gin™, and 3 or 4 cups of fresh lime. She poured the mixture into little plastic cups and then grated fresh lime zest on top.
Ohana restaurant co-owner Alyssa Dadulas created a heavenly elixir called “Rosemary Gin Lemonade” made mainly of three simple ingredients: Rosemary-infused simple syrup, lemon and Knockabout Gin™. Her father and advisor Paul Cohen said “We work with the philosophy of making drinks that are seasonal and that enhance the flavor of the spirit rather than covering it up.” Dadulas’s husband and co-owner Enz Dadulas said “We are very happy with the “Spirit of Cape Ann Cocktails Contest” at the Block Party because it encourages patrons to move around to different restaurants rather than stay in the same place all night long.
“Distillery co-owner Bob Ryan said that he was thrilled by the popularity of cocktails and of the contest, and of the level of skill exhibited by each of the contestants: “These people are not bartenders, they are mixologists.” He was also delighted at the “cocktail chatter” he heard at each of the five competing restaurants, and at the “big grin on the faces of the proprietors. What’s good for us is good for Gloucester and vice versa. Restaurant patrons love being greeted with a sample and having something to talk about as they wait for their table.”
Ryan & Wood Co-Owner Kathy Ryan remarked on the ingenuity and flair displayed by each of the participating restaurants. “Giuseppe’s worked with the citrus notes in the gin and made a grapefruit-based cocktail. The samples, together with the amazing live piano music outside drew enthusiastic crowds that lined up at Giuseppe’s door. Ohana used rosemary brilliantly to highlight the botanicals that enhanced the juniper and other flavors in the spirit. Lat43 thought way out of the box and added pickled ginger and wasabi, including these potent flavors in each of the samples for an exciting experience. Alchemy used mint and lime in a sophisticated combination that was pleasing to the palate. And the winner, Dog Bar, infused the gin with homemade tonic water to then create a drink that was “very cool”.
Kathy Ryan talked about the spirit being featured in the September event: Ryan & Wood™ Straight Rye Whiskey. Ryan said that Rye whiskey was made from many different grains and was a big part of the Gloucester economy until Prohibition when it disappeared. It has come back in a big way and local mixologists will have a chance to do something truly unique, just in time for the winter months.
Baker commented “Just know this: Bourbon is my favorite and Rye is in the same family, so this next contest is the one I’ve been waiting for.” All restaurants within the area of the Gloucester Downtown Block Party are encouraged to enter the third and final round, whether they have competed previously or not.