Waikiki EDITION bartender Sam Treadway, right, accepts his award for winning the 2011 Hawaii qualifier in the Bombay Sapphire and GQ Magazine 'Most Inspired Bartender Search.' On the microphone is Bombay Sapphire brand ambassador Andrew Mirabito. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
BY JASON GENEGABUS / email@example.com
I was fortunate enough to judge my second bartending competition in as many weeks on Tuesday. It’s one of the perks of my job that, while enjoyable, can be pretty tough work at times.
Not so this week.
For the second year in a row, I found myself at Pearl Ultralounge for the Hawaii qualifier of Bombay Sapphire and GQ Magazine’s “Most Inspired Bartender Search,” a contest open to local mixologists willing to think out of the box — and use Bombay’s gin in the process.
Now, some of the drink contests I judge aren’t taken that seriously by the bartenders who enter them. You can usually tell by the lack of creativity in the finished entries, or the completely lost look on a bartender’s face as they dig around behind the bar, looking for ingredients to throw in their cocktail shaker.
That’s not the case with the “Most Inspired Bartender Search.” Just like last year, I was blown away at times by the creativity shown during this competition. Even Bombay Sapphire brand ambassador Andrew Mirabito, who competed in the finals of last year’s contest, admitted a few times that he’d never seen some of the things our local bartenders were doing on Tuesday.
In the end, it was the Waikiki EDITION’s Sam Treadway who took home a commemorative Bombay trophy — plus travel plans in September to attend the national finals in Las Vegas along with more than 40 other bartenders from around the United States. If he wins the national title, he’ll then be invited to participate in Bombay’s world championship, held this year in England, in October.
Here’s a look at all the entries in this year’s Hawaii qualifier; photos are in the order drinks were presented to the judges, which included myself, Hawaii Beverage Guide publisher Chris Teves, Honolulu Magazine’s John Heckathorn and Miribito.
“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The contestants pose for a photo with host Joey Gottesman, front, and Pearl Ultralounge general manager Dan Punch, right. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
SALT Honolulu's Roxanne Siebert mixes her 'Baron Rose,' made with rose petals and described by Siebert as 'like a martini with a twist.' (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
The 'Baron Rose' in finished form. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Bartend Hawaii's Ryan Pierce pours his 'Bombay-silled' cocktail, made with local basil, fresh ginger, watermelon and Passoa (passion fruit liqueur) along with Bombay Sapphire and a squeeze of lemon. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Waikiki EDITION bartender Sam Treadway, who works at the hotel's Lobby Bar, makes the winning cocktail from this year's field of entries. His '11th Reviver' is a take on the traditional 'Corpse Reviver No. 2.' (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Treadway's winning drink featured handmade burnt vanilla syrup and smoked vanilla beans, both using fresh vanilla from Kahuku Farms. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
The Outrigger Reef's John Abreu hauled out an oversized bottle of Bombay Sapphire to serve his entry from during Tuesday's competition. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Abreu's drink, 'Sapphire and Rubies,' played off the Bombay name and Ruby Red grapefruit, which he mixed with fresh basil-infused simple syrup, handmade lemon soda and Bombay Sapphire infused with cantaloupe-flavored jelly beans. He even brought his own bendy straws! (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
John Cocklin, representing newcomer Clubhouse Makino, shows off his 'JC 75' cocktail, made with fresh strawberry puree, simple syrup, smoked lemon and corriander foam, champagne and Bombay Sapphire. The drink was his spin on a traditional 'French 75.' (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Trump International Waikiki bartender Christina Maffei pours her drink, 'Gems of Mumbai,' into Bombay-themed glasses. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Maffei's entry consisted of the cocktail (made with fresh pineapple, cucumber, handmade lemongrass-ginger syrup and gin), plus a serving of handmade pineapple sorbet mixed with Bombay Sapphire. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Waikiki EDITION bartender Christian Self had the most creative entry of the night — his cocktail took a traditional 'Ramos Gin Fizz' and crossed it with traditional English breakfast tea, resulting in a savory drink that none of the judges expected. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Self's entry was served with a handmade lavender scone as a tasty garnish. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Justin Park, bartender at Manifest in Chinatown, makes his 'Early Bird' for the judges. The drink contains fresh guava juice, elderflower liqueur, orange bitters, lime juice, egg white and gin. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
2010 Hawaii qualifier Delia Asada adds handmade tomato juice to her 'Sapphire's Hawaiian Elixir,' which also includes handmade chili pepper water and fresh noni juice from Maui. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Asada's cocktail was her take on the traditional 'Bloody Mary,' and included glasses rimmed with Maui-sourced Hawaiian sea salt. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Nobu Waikiki bar manager Dave Newman muddled some of the ingredients in 'The Pinnacle,' his entry into the contest on Tuesday. While he added Italian amaro liqueur and diluted orange bitters to his drink, Newman said he was trying to keep the focus on the Bombay Sapphire and its distinct mouth feel. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Newman's finished cocktail, served with an oversized ice cube and a twist of orange zest. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)
Chad Mears, representing Pearl Ultralounge, was fired up to serve his entry, made with fresh lychee, cucumber and Bombay Sapphire. (Star-Advertiser photo by Bruce Asato)