The concept? 14 finalists from 7 cities had 24 hours to create the most ingenious cocktails to pair with a surprise appetizer concocted by the hosting venue.
Driven by an affinity for hard liquor and up for a great party a great party, I showed up on a mission to uncover the coolest drink of the year.
And hell, I was not disappointed!
Welcomed by a sleek and beautiful crowd of liquor aficionados, I started my rounds, going from station to station.
It only took me 10 steps to find my first Coup de Coeur of the night – a tequila/pineapple/jalapeño concoction from Maritimer Dan Vorstermans. Presenting what appeared to be an unassuming summer drink, Vorstermans’s creation was revealed to be a feisty hot punch on the tongue.
On my way to the next tasting islet, I befriended a trio of happy voyageurs who urged me to quickly transit into the backroom “where the best competitors are”.
And they were right.
Far in the back end of the room were the dessert-drinks gentlemen who surpassed each other at pairing Canadian Club with Crumpets and Rice Krispies squares.
But the real gem was to be found on the corner-right side of the room. Coming all the way from Vancouver, Mike Shum’s La Maison d’Escoffier was a sinful Courvoisier delight. A rich and enveloping drink on the tongue, it conferred all the elegance of a cognac with a twist. With Cinzano Rosso and Alvear fino sherry added to the mix, the beauty also included drops of maple syrup, cardamom bitter, and a finish of shaved truffles.
When the clock hit 10 pm, all gathered along the Velvet for the crowning of the winner. To great acclaim, but little surprise, Mr. Shum was named King of the year.
Meet Erik from The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant in Winnipeg. I really liked his drink, so asked for his recipe. Only for your eyes – here you go, the secret behind the “Rye au lait avec cafe”: