Kenny Lang of Bon Appetit Restaurant & Bar in Dunedin won the inagural Dine Tampa Bay Cocktail Competition with this Ybor City inspired cocktail that included smoked ice, Bacardi rum, bacon swizzle sticks and a small cigar for garnish. JEFF HOUCK
Published: August 30, 2013
Updated: August 30, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Demon Slayer sake is available at Duckweed Urban Market.
If anyone ever asks you to judge a cocktail contest, do not hesitate to say yes.
I had a blast doing just that Aug. 12 at Dine Tampa Bay's cocktail competition at the new Beachwood Inn in downtown St. Petersburg. The event kicked off the area's restaurant week.
First place went to Kenny Lang from Bon Appetit Restaurant & Bar in Dunedin. Ryan Schriver of Domani Bistro Lounge in Tampa took second place, and Justin Grey of Anise Global Gastrobar in Tampa finished third.
Each of the nine competing bartenders was required to make three drinks, including one that told the story of Tampa (an odd choice, since we were in St. Pete) and a wild card drink they wouldn't find out about until that night.
The one that blew the judges away: Lang's take on Ybor City, with its muddled lemon, fresh ginger and splash of rosemary infused simple syrup. To that, he added bitters, Bacardi, Gran Marnier and ginger beer, all of which swam around a shaker full of smoked ice.
He topped the drink with bacon swizzle sticks and a cigarillo garnish.
What a delicious cocktail.
SO LONG, FAREWELL
Tampa's bartending took a giant hit in the talent pool this month with the departures of Carla Rivera, Andres Aleman and Dawn Heidemann.
Rivera left Cigar City Brew Pub to mix in Miami. Aleman, formerly of Grille One Sixteen, migrated north to do consulting in Brooklyn. Heidemann, who recently competed in the Diageo World Class U.S. Finale in New York City, moved to the city to make cocktails at Diageo's house bar in Manhattan.
GO TO MARKET
For those who love craft beer, Duckweed Urban Market is an oasis in downtown Tampa. The new digs for the boutique grocery in the Element condo tower give it ample space for a wall of refrigerated beers.
My favorite thing, though, is that the market also carries several labels of refrigerated sake adjacent to the beer case. Especially worth considering is a bottle or two of the Manotsuru Demon Slayer.
You can find Duckweed at 803 N. Tampa St. in Tampa.
NEW NAME, NEW LEADERS
When it formed a little over two years ago, The Left Coast Bartenders Guild focused the cocktail scene in Tampa Bay by giving it a backbone of rules modeled on the United States Bartenders' Guild and holding events such as the Repeal Day Party.
The group recently changed its name to U.S. Bartenders' Guild, Tampa Bay, and it has a new slate of officers.
The new chapter council president is Alexander Barranco, with Justin Gray serving as vice president and Amber France as secretary.
POP THE GOLDEN CORK
Keel and Curley Winery in Plant City is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its mark of selling a million bottles during that time by borrowing from Willy Wonka.
Earlier this month, the millionth bottle and nine other bottles were adorned with a golden cork and placed on store shelves in the Tampa area.
Customers who open a golden cork bottle will be invited to the winery Oct. 10 for a chance at a grand prize trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley.
The nine runners-up will win gift baskets with Keel and Curley products, a case of their favorite Keel and Curley wine, along with certificates for complimentary winery tours and tastings.
If you find a golden cork, email founder Joe Keel at email@example.com.
SHOT GLASSES FOR EVERY OCCASION
Saw these awesome slated shot glasses (above) at Crate & Barrel at International Plaza the other day. If they don't mess with your head when you're sober, they'll definitely do so when you're not.