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Eat & Drink

Hennessy cocktail competition stirs up the Drake

Posted by Staff / August 30, 2012

hennessy black cocktail competitionThe excitement was palpable as the Hennessy Black Cocktail Competition got underway at 8:30 pm on Tuesday night in The Drake Hotel. Fifteen local bartenders were competing to win a trip to Hennessy Cognac House in France, as decided by a panel of judges that included Food Network host Kevin Brauch, and Dave Mitton, President of Canada's Professional Bartenders Association.

hennessy black cocktail competitionMembers of the public could vote on a Runner-Up, who would be bestowed with a night at The Drake and a $150 Drake Gift Card. Each competing bartender was allotted a 15 minute round in which to mix fresh cocktails for the judges. Members of the public would drink from complimentary 1 oz samples of pre-made batches.

hennessy black cocktail competitionJonny Gray of Weslodge was the first competitor to mix a concoction that was described by its inventor as "smooth and mellow." Gray finished well within the 15-minute limit, which was for the best as emcee Kevin Brauch admitted that judges had forgotten to start the clock.

hennessy black cocktail competitionThereafter, the entire competition devolved into a timed interval frenzy as Brauch fleetingly shouted out names of competing bartenders, and a line of unidentified bartenders flung unidentified bar ingredients. It appeared that the competitors were also expected to pour out their pre-made batch of cocktails for the waiting masses during their allotted 15 minutes.

hennessy black cocktail competitionAs a result, much less than the promised 200 samples were distributed, and the majority of the free samples were snatched up by a solid wall of drinkers that had affixed themselves to the bar. Those on the periphery could only peer longingly and wonder, since no announcement was made on whether additional free samples would be available.

hennessy black cocktail competitionFortunately, Drake servers were able to navigate the space behind the crowd to offer those bereft of drink a free hors d'oeuvre. The Greek Salad Cucumber Cups were crisp and summery, and the Wild Mushroom Tart with Truffle Oil was flaky and delicious.

hennessy black cocktail competitionThose willing to pay for a drink could easily get one at the non-competition side of the bar. Thus, with a free snack in one hand, and a vodka tonic in the other, one could witness the chaos from afar, and muse on the illusion of the democratic vote.

hennessy black cocktail competitionWriting by Denise Ing. Photos by Denise McMullin



whybother? / August 30, 2012 at 11:34 am
Um, is it just me or is this article all about the author lamenting that he/she didn't get any free samples and therefore wasn't close enough to the 'action' to actually report on the title of said article: Hennessy cocktail competition?!?! Like say, the winner(s), the ingredients of competing concoctions, etc? WTF? Why was this even posted?
Who Won? / August 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Maybe you could at the very least tell us who won?? It wasn't about the free drinks you didn't get, it was about the contest.
neilson replying to a comment from whybother? / August 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm
This is less an article and more a of press rerelease for the various commercial bodies involved. Refer to the litany of hyperlinks embedded in the first paragraph.

An "article" usually includes some semblance of journalistic integrity, research, careful editing, etc.
Joe replying to a comment from whybother? / August 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm
If a competition is chaotic and badly organized, why would you even care about the winners? The organizers certainly didn't care if members of the public got a sample. It was a hot mess, and this review captures that perfectly.
Mr Danger / August 30, 2012 at 05:08 pm
Rob Montgomery of the Miller Tavern won. The caliber of cocktails was very high and everyone should be very proud of themselves.
it's about the art of the cocktail, not how much free shit you got. The drake has many bars that could have catered to your thirst...
gosia101 / August 31, 2012 at 11:28 am
I was not there for the free drinks. I would have gladly paid for my 1 oz of cocktail because a good cocktail is worth paying for. Looking at the names of the competitors, I am sure the drinks were excellent. But I couldn't get my hands on any.

My dear neilson, if an event is so chaotic as to not worth going back to surely that, too, is worth knowing?

This is not to slag the Drake - I'm sure much was learned from this and I will go back for another round next time they do this.
Wine lounge / September 5, 2012 at 05:17 am
Damn looks like a pretty nice and interesting competition. I really love it when there is happy hour and when the bartenders show their skills with the drinks and glasses, its really exciting and thrilling.
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