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What a great night! The first annual Mezcalicious Cocktail Contest set a very high bar, as all the cocktails were innovative and delicious. We had contenders from the East Bay, South Bay and San Francisco, making it a true Bay Area event. The judging criteria? Flavor, aroma, originality, presentation and how representative the cocktail is of Mexico. Next year we will have to add one more – most unique ingredient after Emmanuel Hernandez of La Niña Perdida in Morgan Hill incorporated and ant nectar in his cocktail.

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But onto the competition, and the tough judges – Trent Simpson of the USBG, Peter Jackson of Boucherie Meats, and Ted Ronnie of Mosto. They definitely had a huge task and in fact, the competition was incredibly tight, with half points separating the top three, and just a few points the others. In the end it came down to how the winning bartender carefully balanced his ingredients to draw out the flavor of the mezcal, rather than bury it. Huge congratulations to Grand Prize winner Ramon Garcia of Alchemist Bar and Lounge in San Francisco. His cocktail, Still Life A La Oaxaca, was a perfect blend of citrus bitters and a pineapple guava infused Cocchi Americano.

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Audience choice winner was Andrew Woodley of Pabu and his cocktail Pabu Buro that was a perfect blend of east meets west flavors – yazu juice, aztec bitter chocolate and agave nectar.

A huge congratulations to all of the competing bartenders – Emmanuel Hernandez of La Niña Perdida in Morgan Hill, Ty Caudle of Hog and Rocks in San Francisco, Jacopo Rosito of 54 Mint, Zack Saffron of Woodbury, Matt Harrison of Penrose, Jessica Everett of Mamacita, and Hayden Daangk of Future Bars.

And of course a huge thank you to Mezcal Nuestra Soledad for sponsoring this event, The Devil’s Acre for providing the perfect venue, the USBG and Eric Giardina of Puro Burro for making this happen!

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