Last night, La Belle Vie reigned supreme in the Iron Bartender finals. And given the secret ingredient was a horrifyingly artificial “Green Apple Flavored Drink,” that is an impressive feat. I mean, there were some challenging things on that table but even fish sauce has an appealing umami quality. You had Hola Arepa and La Belle Vie, known for high quality and house made ingredients, trying to make something palatable from a bottle of artificial everything. I don’t envy either team and hopefully the eliminated teams (Marvel and Tattersall) at least took solace in not having to deal with this monstrosity.
We had a lot of fun attending three of the four events (we missed week two) and cheering on some of our favorite bartenders in town! In the three nights we attended, we got to taste 20 different consumer choice cocktails – some that made us anxious to try someplace new, and some that made us question old favorites. There were good surprises, like the salted pistachio concoction from Il Foro in week one. There were bad surprises, like the Froot Loop Cosmopolitan. But mostly, there were a lot of delicious and interesting things that we might not have ordered from a menu but really enjoyed trying (the habenero bitters in Hola Arepa’s Pineapple Old Fashioned would have scared me away, but somehow they brought a lot of flavor with a manageable level of heat).
Ultimately, this felt like a celebration of everything that is going on in the local cocktail scene. One of the things that draws me towards the local food and drink scene (other than the amazing food and drink) is the camaraderie that seems to exist amongst people who are technically competitors. The people make the experience, and our towns have some GREAT people!