In another sign that Nashvegas is moving into the upper echelon of the food and drink universe, we have been named a Top 40 cocktail market. Our fair city made the cut in the 3rd annual edition of the Bombay Sapphire/GQ Magazine Inspired Bartender Search, and five talented local mixologists were invited to compete in the semifinals Tuesday night at Cabana.
"A lot of these smaller cities have fantastic talent. They've either worked in big cities before and then moved back out to raise families or to get out of the big city, but their skill set is phenomenal."
The Final Five work at some of the area's most popular watering holes:
These five professional mixologists put a lot of time and thought into their concoctions. Rather than simply substituting Bombay Sapphire gin for another liquor in a traditional recipe or combining some of the hot bar ingredients of the day into a new melange, the entrants concentrated on the 10 unique botanicals of the base liquor and tried to complement the aromas and flavors.
Like a chef inventing a new dish, they tasted and tweaked their drinks over and over, much to the delight of coworkers and favorite bar patrons who got to participate in the process. Their individual takes on these flavor combinations were as unique as their different personalities.
Gina's "Sapphire Gin-Ger Blossom" played off the citrus and berry elements of the Sapphire. While Arnold's East meets West "Sala-Bombay" also plays off of the lemon peel botanicals, he turned up the volume on the flavor with the addition of house-made lemongrass syrup. Eric's "Sapphire de Olla" was a playful homage to an earthy Mexican coffee drink, substituting Bombay Sapphire's essence of Cassia bark, Orris root and Anjelica for the coffee beans. As a self-professed "cocktail nerd," Charles' "Red 75" was an homage which combined elements of two traditional gin-based cocktails, the Negroni and the French 75. Finally, Audie's "Sexy Sapphire" let the bubbles of a splash of champagne open up all the botanicals of the Bombay Sapphire for an aromatic experience to augment the taste.
All these cocktails have been added to the regular bar menus of the participating establishments and are available for your own judging pleasure. We encourage you to try them out (although not necessarily in one night) and talk to the contestants about their inspirations.
If you'd like to play along at home, Arnold shared his recipe with us:
SALA BOMBAY COCKTAIL
1 ½ oz Bombay Sapphire
2 -Thai Basil Leaves (size of a quarter)
1- One and one half inch Fresh Lemongrass Stalk, Split
1 -Quarter inch Lemon Wheel
¼ oz House-made Lemongrass Syrup
2 oz Soda
1 oz Gingerale
4 oz Ice
Method of Preparation:
Muddle Bombay Sapphire Gin, Basil, Lemon and Lemongrass together. Add Lemongrass Syrup, Soda and Gingerale and shake vigorously with ice. Transfer all ingredients into rocks glass.
If this seems beyond your ability, drop by PM or ChaChah or the "coming soon" Suzy Wong's House of Yum and ask him to make you one. Wish him luck while you're there so we can show those big city folks that we know our way around a Boston Shaker here in Nashville.