Averna Spirits - Tales of the Cocktail Luncheon - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Avera Cocktail Finalists

I had to know.  Didn’t you?  Which one of the lucky Averna competition finalists will win and which Averna cocktail will it be.  These creative bartenders from around the nation have already made their way to Sicily by way of their talent and original recipes where they will compete at the Averna distillery.  One of them will also receive a $1,500 American Express gift card.  Hope they spend it all in one place; having a grand time in Sicily! 

Averna Spirits - Tales of the Cocktail Luncheon - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

After reading through the cocktail creations these bartenders are shaking up, I can already say my work is cut out for me.  Not only do they sound tempting, but now I need to round up the ingredients. 

Damon Dyer’s cocktail, Tuesdays with Mole is an interesting concoction using two rums and egg white.  I found a slight variation of this on the new Ardent Spirits website using demerara syrup rather than Demerara Rum, but both created by Damon.  Hey, if it made the Regan’s Ardent Spirits cocktail listing this one must be unusually fabulous!

Tuesdays with Mole – Damon Dyer

2 measures Goslings Black Seal Rum

3/4 measure Averna

1/2 measure Demerara Rum

1/2 measure Lemon Juice

Egg White

Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Shake, shake, shake, strain into coupe glass.  Float 5 drops Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

Don Lee’s La Cola Nostra is rather different as a tall drink over ice.  What is so unusual about that?  It is topped off with champagne.  But the real rarity is the inclusion of Pimento Dram.  According to my research Pimento Dram is a liqueur from the Caribbean created from a small spicy pimiento berry which concentrates the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove together within one taste, thus allspice. 

La Cola Nostra – Don Lee (ultimate winner of the challenge)

1-1/2 measure Zacapa 23

1 measure Averna

3/4 measure Lime Juice

1/2 measure Simple Syrup

1/4 measure Pimento Dram

2 measures Moet White Star Champagne

Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a long glass with ice.  Top with champagne.

Jeff Hollinger’s Midnight in Sicily also stands apart from the other four using “Sicilian Style” Blood Orange agrodolce.  When speaking about cuisine, agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce made by reducing the elements of vinegar and sugar with the additions of wine, fruit and sometimes chocolate.  How Jeff manipulates the traditional into cutting edge in this cocktail will be intriguing.

Midnight in Sicily – Jeff Hollinger

1-1/2 measure Amaro Averna

1 measure Tanqueray Gin

1/2 measure “Sicilian Style” Blood Orange Agrodolce

5 to 6 Mint Leaves

Flamed Blood Orange Rind for Garnish

Combine ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake for 20 to 30 seconds, or until well chilled.  Double strain through a fine meshed strainer into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the flamed blood orange rind. 

Thomas Waugh’s Hierba Buena Cocktail proves tequila is no longer reserved for the margarita.  Thomas takes the peppery spice of Don Julio Reposado and merges it with the multifaceted zest of Averna and the sweetness of Crème de Cacao.  The Hierba Buena Cocktail goes a step further in flavor complexity with the addition of mint cream on top. 

Hierba Buena Cocktail – Thomas Waugh

1-1/4 measure Averna

1-1/4 measure Don Julio Reposado Tequila

1/4 measure White Crème de Cacao

1 measure Heavy Whipping Cream

3 dashes Fees Mint Bitters

First make bitter mint cream: add mint bitters and heavy cream to a cocktail shaker.  Dry shake (no ice) for 30 seconds.  Set aside.  Then stir Averna, tequila and cacao in a mixing glass full of ice for 45 seconds.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Using a bar spoon, carefully layer the cream on top of the cocktail.  Garnish with shaved chocolate and fresh mint sprig.

Debbie Peek’s Anima Bella cocktail is creative for a number of reasons.  Once you see the photo, take a look at that garnish.  Now that is a garnish you do not see in the average lemon, lime, orange, olive, maraschino cherry garnish tray. This avant-garde bartender really thought outside the box.  The inclusion of fresh raspberries and blackberries with fresh citrus juice also makes this a standout selection for the competition.  Fresh fruits infuse more color and unique layering of flavor into a drink than spirits alone.  Another look at the photo and you will see the rich color shine through so well in the Anima Bella you can almost taste it. 

Anima Bella – Debbie Peek

1-1/2 measure Averna

1/2 measure Plymouth Gin

1 measure Mineola Orange Juice

1/2 measure Orange Juice

1/4 measure Simple Syrup

5 Fresh Raspberries

3 Fresh Blackberries

In a Boston shaker add berries and fresh citrus.  Muddle.  Add Averna and gin.  Shake with ice.  Double strain into a chilled eight-ounce cocktail glass.  Using a wooden pick horizontally, place 2 citrus leaves vertically through the pick, then in a fan shape add thin slices of half moon lime wheels and then a raspberry.  On the lime slices, add the peel of the Minneola on top on the outside of the lime.  Place on the edge of the cocktail glass.

Surely it is five o’clock somewhere.  Cheers!

Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon – str8upcocktails @ gmail.com – ©2011 Cheri Loughlin-The Intoxicologist, All Rights Reserved. All opinions, reviews and spirits’ coverage are the personal opinion and decision of Cheri Loughlin.