This past Thursday was the InterContinental TopShelf Mixology Competition at Bacardi HQ. This event, which headlined carefully crafted cocktails by some of the most talented mixologists in the industry, was a way to feature the company’s diversity in locations. The concept was that each location would create a cocktail representative of its city’s culture and cuisine in an effort to provide a taste of the uniqueness coming that that destination.
The finalists included mixologists from Boston, Miami, New York Times Square, San Juan, Toronto Centre and Presidente InterContinental Cozumel. There were five accredited judges, including Julio Cabrera, who chose the winner after tasting the drinks. The winning mixologist received a three-night stay plus airfare for two to the InterContinental San Juan where they will take a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of the BACARDĺ factory, and the honor of having their cocktail to the Signature Cocktail menu. There was also a people’s choice award, who earned the recipient a $200 check.
The Calle Ocho, made by the Matthew Philips from Toro Toro, was a mojito-inspired cocktail with a slight nod to Miami’s infatuation for everything Cafecito. This cocktail was my particular favorite of the night, made from Bacardi Superior, Bacardi Anejo, Lemongrass infused syrup, Lavaza espresso, mint leaves, and Cream Soda. Another popular drink was the Boston Tea, made Infused Bacardi Rum with cinnamon and orange-spiced tea, lemon juice, hotel harvested honey, and egg white. Similar to a spiked Arnold Palmer, this cocktail alluded to the historical Boston Tea party.
All the cocktails followed this level of creativity and inspiration, definitely making a case for the level of expectations that have people have when it comes to mixology. The judges ended up awarding the first place award to the cocktails from San Juan, and the people’s choice went to New York Times Square. Although this was a competition, there was a level of camaraderie in the room unlike anything I have seen before. The mixologists were all friends with each other and applauded the efforts of their competition. It was a genuinely friendly atmosphere, making the event that much better.