Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yay Cassie!

ZU Vodka Cocktail Competition from digital-dinG Productions on Vimeo.

Congrats to Frank's own Cassie Stewart for pulling down 2nd in the Zu cocktail competiton. There was some serious competition! Congrats to Peché and East Side Showroom too!

Here's the full story from Austin Lifestyle Magazine.

You’ve been to the bars, you’ve seen the flaming glasses and flying bottles. We’ve even featured some of the more creative bartenders in the pages of Austin Lifestyle. But that’s a bit of flash and glamour, adding performance to presentation and often distracting from a product that’s too sweet or unbalanced. So, in the interest of taste alone, ZU Vodka and ALM hosted a more objective look at the cocktail in Austin. We took over Frank downtown and turned it into half cocktail party, half blind taste test. A panel of three judges evaluated nine contestants from the best that Austin’s bars have to offer, holding out an all-expense paid trip to compete in “Tales Of The Cocktail” in New Orleans as reward for the best concoction and its maker.

By fortunate happenstance (and ZU Vodka’s kindness), I happened to be one of the judges. And, while it sounds prestigious, looking back, it’s quite the marathon. Even in sample size servings, nine tests is quite a lot, and it’s difficult to separate a vast variety of tastes beyond a certain point. Luckily, the party guests were encouraged to provide their own opinions and supplement the panel of judges. Now, while we never lost objectivity and didn’t once descend into basic or banal evaluations (“This one: good. That one: bad” never appeared on any of our judging sheets), it certainly was a challenge to decide what drink stood above the rest.

ZU Vodka was required for all cocktails, and the bisongrass spirit has a delicate and natural taste that can be overpowered and lost in standard mixers and thoughtless combinations. Of course, we were in the hands of very skilled bartenders from around the city, including Perla’s, Peche, Eastside Showroom, Paggi House, McCormick’s & Schmick’s – Downtown, Frank, and The Tavern. Each brought a unique twist and kept our tastebuds guessing. With no access to the craftsmen and women, we judges could go by taste alone and, for the most part, agreed with the voice of the crowd in attendance. The winners, featured in Austin Lifestyle, can be found around Austin and we encourage everyone to visit them in their native state and see if you agree or disagree with our results. Check out the video of that evening’s events below and connect with us on Facebook to track the winner, Justin, as he ventures to New Orleans to represent ZU Vodka, Austin Lifestyle, and our city’s great movement in cocktail couture.
Winners were: 1st place – Justin Elliott, Péché - The Pulaski Bridge Swizzle [ZU Vodka, homemade Jujube (green date) cordial, Prosecco, Hand-cracked ice, Swizzled with a candied bison bone] | 2nd place – Cassie Stewart, Frank - Summer Grass [ZU Vodka, cucumber, blood orange juice, fresh lemonade, soda water] | 3rd place – Chauncy James, East Side Show Room - Polish Pony [ZU Vodka, Galliano, Cocchi Americano, Aqua Vit, Campari, orange twist]

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