Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Made With Love Mixology Competition - Toronto

Santa came twice for me this year – I was invited to Made with Love, a cocktail competition in the Distillery District. Never heard of it? It’s kind of a big deal in the mixology world. Once a year, thirteen of the best bartenders in town showcase their personal cocktail creations, and compete for the coveted MWL Judges’ Choice and the MWL People’s Choice Awards.
Meanwhile, ticket holders get to savour every drink and vote on their favourite cocktail. Did I mention the event also serves up great music and delicious appetizers throughout the evening?

At the Fermenting Cellar, I was handed a string of drink tickets and a MWL necklace to award to my favourite bartender of the night. With thirteen drinks to savour, I knew it was going to be difficult to choose only one winner.

Without further ado, here are my top picks:
Kathleen Shattock, Fox/the Miller Tavern
Drink: If That Ain’t Love
Check out this hot pink masterpiece! Kathleen was inspired to create a cocktail with Polish vodka, and I’m glad she did. I loved watching her mix up this delish drink and explain the ingredients, which included Zubrowka vodka, Chai simple syrup, lemon juice and egg white.

Robin Wynne, Fynn’s Temple Bar
Drink: Cool Runnings
My teeth are still hurting from this three-part drink with ice cream and candy. Part 1: Caramel popcorn coated with Appleton’s v/x brown butter “malto” and Appleton’s v/x spice rub. Part 2: Appleton’s v/x brown butter and vanilla bean ice cream. Part 3: Sip the brown butter and vanilla spice infused Appleton v/x cocktail. Ingredients: Appleton’s Reserve molasses chai syrup, spice rum, lemon and black pepper bitters, lemon juice and egg whites, and caramel “air.”
Jordan Stacey, Brasaii
Drink: Sailor’s Delight
I was a bit miffed by lineup to sample this cocktail. But after watching Jordan swirl a layer of coconut cream onto my drink, I didn’t give a hoot. This tropical cocktail was comprised of an array of ingredients: Sailor Jerry’s rum, liquorice root and Keemun infused Orgeat, pineapple juice, coconut milk, demerara syrup, lime juice, dash vanilla infused Angostura bitters topped with coconut foam. Verdict: worth the 30-minute wait!
Michelle Tham, Independent
Drink: C.R.E.A.M.
I ran into Michelle Tham, our former food correspondent for Hip + Urban Girl and last year's MWL winner. She was shaking up a chocolatey concoction of homemade whiskey cream liqueur, blended and served on the rocks with a truffle on top. I gave Michelle my necklace at the end of the night – anything with chocolate wins my vote!
Jeff Van Horne, The Bicycle Thief Halifax
Drink: Grants Tiki Swizzle
Bartender Jeff was at MWL Toronto to showcase his prize-winning drink from Halifax. I loved this light cocktail with a sweet and sour twist – perfect for sticky summer nights! Jeff mixed up Grants blended Scotch whiskey, coconut and banana syrup, fresh grapefruit, lemon and lime, hand-crushed ice, nutmeg and mint garnish. It was fun to watch him “swizzle” my drink together.

I gorged on way too much poutine!  But thanks to the tasty apps, I was able to walk a straight line at the end of the night.

Finally, the winners were proclaimed.

Judges’ Choice: Scott McMaster, SPiN Toronto for Moisturized Scotsman in a Chinese Hat

People’s Choice: Robin Wynn, Fynn's Temple Bar for Cool Runnings

Feeling bad about missing this year’s MWL event in Toronto? Don’t worry, MWL takes place in six cities across the country – Toronto, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Calgary, and Vancouver. Check the MWL website for dates, locations, and ticket prices. --- Lisa Jackson

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