2009 Grand Marnier & Navan Mixology Summit pt. 1
What happens when you gather 100 of the country’s most talented bartenders for a weekend in Vail? A party of epic proportions. Having that much talent together in one place threatened to melt all of the snow in Vail Pass. This is part one in a series of posts describing what really went down.
A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Marnier & Navan 2009 Mixology Summit in beautiful Vail, CO. The weekend was designed to bring together 100 of the countries most talented and passionate bartenders for parties, education, networking, and most important of all, sharing in the passion for the craft. Grand Marnier fully succeeded in creating an environment that was both conducive to education as well as having a damn good time. Much to my delight, the weekend ended up being completely free of pretense, leaving even more room to open up, be yourself, and let your ideas run free.
To be a part of this amazing event, Grand Marnier selected 100 bartenders based on four of their original cocktail recipes. Three of them were to utilize Grand Marnier and one recipe to use Navan, (a vanilla cognac.) For the Summit each bartender chosen was required to select two of the four recipes they had submitted, and create them in a lab designed to showcase the bartender as well as their cocktails. Having arrived early to the Summit, I chose to do my lab early the first day.
I ended up choosing two of my cocktails that I felt best represented my style. Fresh, balanced and delicious.
On the left we have La Guera. My approach here was to start with Hendricks Gin and highlight the cucumber used in making the gin. It’s actually a very simple drink based on the classic White Lady (gin, Cointreau, lemon juice) I replaced the Cointreau with Grand Marnier and added muddled cucumber. For balance I opted to use agave nectar, as I love how it sweetens but doesn’t overwhelm. For the garnish I chose edible Borage flowers. They have a slightly sweet herbal flavor and also taste a bit like cucumber. Here’s the recipe.
2 oz. Hendricks Gin
.75oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5oz. agave nectar syrup (1:1 ratio with water)
2 Tbsp peeled and diced cucumber
1 barspoon St. Germain Elderflower cordial to rinse glass
3 Borage flowers for garnish
Start by muddling agave nectar and cucumber in the glass half of shaker. Next, add remainder of ingredients minus the St. Germain, followed by ice and shake vigorously for at least 10-15 seconds. Finally, fine strain into chilled cocktail glass that has been rinsed with St. Germain. Garnish with thin slice of scored cucumber with three Borage flowers tucked into the middle. Enjoy!
My other cocktail is the Sonora Cocktail. While both of these display a bit of my Texas roots, the Sonora really brings it home for me. Having worked in many a Mexican food restaurant growing up, I would always see some of the staff putting chile powder and lime juice on fruits (especially melon), a common practice in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. What an amazing combination of flavors. The sweet and spicy combo really blew my mind back in the day, and I’ve always wanted to recreate that combo in a cocktail. The garnish here is a Calendula flower. It’s in the marigold family and together they have been called poor mans saffron. The idea is for it to be aromatic while you sip, adding to the flavor without being tasted. I use Chile de Arbol powder here because I want it to really stand up to the other ingredients.
2 oz. El Tesoro Blanco
1 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. demerara simple syrup
1/2 cup peeled and chopped cantaloupe
1/8 tsp Chile de Arbol powder
Calendula flowers for garnish
Start by muddling cantaloupe and simple syrup in glass half of shaker. Next, add remainder of ingredients followed by ice and shake like the dickens for 10-15 seconds. Fine strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with calendula.
I’d really like to thank Nathan Peitso of Maggie’s Farm again for growing these flowers specifically for my use at the Summit. He and his crew have been an invaluable resource here in LA for hard to find specialty produce. Just another reason I’m happy to call Los Angeles home.
More to come about the rest of the event. The parties, seminars, the fact that I’m still alive. . .