Next GINeration Cocktail Challenge at Old Town Social

June 22 2010 - 12:42 PM

When it comes to concocting the perfect cocktail according to industry standards, I’ve never seen myself as much of a pro. But when it comes to crafting a cocktail that my girl friends will drink, I opt in as quite the connoisseur.  (In other words, I’m pretty good at adding enough ingredients to make the drink taste delish, but not great at bringing out the true essence of the liquor being used).

So when I was among the food and drink writers lucky enough to participate in the 2010 Next GINeration Cocktail Challenge (hosted by New Amsterdam Gin), I decided to go into it with an open mind, and hope to come away with new insights for crafting the perfect cocktail.

Master Mixologist Alex Ott started out the challenge by giving us all a 101 lesson in mixology. Some of my favorite tips were:

· Think about what food you are pairing the drink with before you start. A bad combination can ruin the cocktail, and the food.

· Making the drink look great is a must, but even more important is the taste. (This is where I struggled in the competition. But hey, at least it looked good!)

· Think outside the box on ingredients. Hints of ginger, lavender or even cayenne pepper are a great addition to a gin cocktail.

· Check the Web Sites of your favorite liquors for unique recipe ideas. Check out New Amsterdam Gin’s recipe page here to see what I mean.

Since I know you’re all dying to know what I created (wishful thinking at its best) – I created a cocktail containing the New Amsterdam straight gin, a splash of liquefied honey, and a pinch of ginger, shaken with cucumber.

 The only other rule of the competition was that we had to create our cocktail as Chicago-inspired. So once I realized just how many random ingredients I’d added, I decided to name my cocktail “The Red Line” – with the thought that ‘it’s crowded, it’s messy, it’s eclectic; but at the end of the night, it gets you to where you need to be.’ So again, I really need to refocus my efforts less on explaining myself, and more on making the cocktail taste up to par.

All competitiveness aside, it was a fun challenge, and I was able to come away with new understandings of the cocktail world, and, as a vodka drinker, a newfound appreciation for gin.



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*Special thanks to New Amsterdam Gin and Old Town Social for hosting this fab event.