Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wobbly Olive barman wins cocktail fight

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Phil Arana impressed the judges and the crowd with two egg-based cocktails. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Phil Arana impressed the judges and the crowd with two egg-based cocktails.
Earlier this week, The Wobbly Olive hosted a friendly cocktail competition. Four killer bartenders threw down their best, with the Olive's Phil Arana battling Dylan Currier of Cowboy Star and Sean Fitzgerald, also of the Olive, matching up with Alejandro Sanchez of Axe and the Oak Whiskey House, with The Famous' Colby Carlson acting as master of ceremonies. I judged alongside Indy publisher Carrie Simison.

Before the competition began in proper, Carlson and Fitzgerald threw down with a "shots scuffle," each making a shot with Don Julio blanco tequila and a secret ingredient suggested by the audience. Fitzgerald rode peanut butter (in this case a peanut butter syrup) in a party-friendly shot to victory over Carlson, whose creme de violette-fueled concoction read floral and dry on the finish.

For the first round, all four barmen had 20 minutes to make a drink with Ketel One vodka and secret ingredient creme de noyaux, a culinary cousin of amaretto. Currier brought in a raspberry/cranberry/rosemary syrup and finished the holiday-inflected martini-style drink with a creme de noyaux/egg white foam. But the judges preferred Arana's "sexy, sophisticated" blend of bitters, liqueur, egg white and "gingerbread" ginger/clove/spice syrup.

click to enlarge Alejandro Sanchez, embodying "What, me worry?" - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Alejandro Sanchez, embodying "What, me worry?"
Sanchez pulled together a bright mix, matching the noyaux with Campari, citruses and bitters. But we felt the drink was too condensed, its complex flavors needing space to really show. We gave the win to Fitzgerald's take on an Adonis — traditionally, equal parts sherry and sweet vermouth — which drank boozy and decadent, presented in a decanter.

The final round saw Fitzgerald and Arana competing with Nolet's gin — unique for its Turkish, rose-dominant flavor profile — and secret ingredient Stirrings ginger liqueur. Fitzgerald went beachy, with a drink somewhere between a bramble and a mule, resting on housemade blackberry cordial. But, balanced as it was, Arana went for maximum effort and turned out a respectable take on a Ramos gin fizz, spending most of his time shaking the drink into a proper pillow-light foam.

After Arana's win, Carlson announced another bar fight at The Famous, sometime during the last week of January.

Check out more pictures from the evening below:
click to enlarge Phil Arana's first drink, plated with ginger snaps. - CARRIE SIMISON
  • Carrie Simison
  • Phil Arana's first drink, plated with ginger snaps.
click to enlarge Dylan Currier's drink lost to Arana in the first round, but guests adored it. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Dylan Currier's drink lost to Arana in the first round, but guests adored it.
click to enlarge Alejandro Sanchez presented a dense, complicated sipper - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Alejandro Sanchez presented a dense, complicated sipper
click to enlarge Sean Fitzgerald's seductive drink felt appropriately glitzy - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Sean Fitzgerald's seductive drink felt appropriately glitzy
click to enlarge Phil Arana finishing a line of winning Ramos fizzes for the judges - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Phil Arana finishing a line of winning Ramos fizzes for the judges
click to enlarge Sean Fitzgerald's beachy drink pleased and impressed, but did not secure him the win. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Sean Fitzgerald's beachy drink pleased and impressed, but did not secure him the win.
click to enlarge Phil Arana celebrates his win with an engraved bottle of Nolet's gin. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Phil Arana celebrates his win with an engraved bottle of Nolet's gin.

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