Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to be one of the judges at the** Domaine de Canton cocktail competition held at downtown’s First & Hope Supper Club**. I know. Squeeee! Along with renowned mixologist Alex Day (formerly of Death & Co., now cocktail consultant with Proprietors, LLC), Dan “The Imbiber” Dunn and Domaine de Canton founder, John Cooper, I was **charged with picking one winning Domaine de Canton cocktail out of the nine created by some of the best mixologists in L.A.** Boy, what a tough gig. Heh.
Each cocktail was judged based on its appearance, aroma, creativity and taste. We also had to award points for whether the cocktail showcased the contest theme and the Canton flavor, as well as our overall impression of the drink.
Malo‘s Rachel Shaw brought forth a honeyed El Wood of Barenjager honey liqueur and Yellow Chartreuse. Gus, formerly of Copa d’Oro and now at the Edison, went with Ginger Pastis Sour while Palihouse‘s Grady Purdell had a Maison Sour of cognac. Patrick Kelly at Bar Keeper created an unusual drink he dubbed Rhythm or Rhyme which employed a chocolate chili bitters, tequila reposado and a unique garnish of grapefruit rind string wrapped around a bundle of sage. Juan Sevilla of Soho House made the French Oaxacan with crema and cru and Daniel Eun of The Varnish ended the night with a Triple Double using Laird’s Apple Jack and Antica.
Out of all the lovely drinks, the judges and I were able to narrow it down to the top three. The second and third runners-up cocktails were impressive showings but only missed the top slot by mere points. Still both were very deelish. I’ve included the recipes should you want to try them at home.
Tricia Alley of Providence and First & Hope created her Granny Smith & Wesson, a cocktail with Old Overholt Rye as its backbone and fennel seed and muddled Granny Smith apples. This one was a beautiful peachy color with a single baby basil leaf floating on its surface. The flavor combination of basil and apples was just gorgeous, and the rye and ginger with that was a natural fit.
Granny Smith and Wesson
By Tricia Alley of First & Hope
- 1.5 oz Domaine de Canton
- 1.5 oz Old Overholt Rye Whisky
- .75 oz fresh squeezed lime
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- 1/2 Granny Smith apple
- Barspoon fennel seed
Muddle Granny Smith Apple, Fennel Seed and Peychaud’s Bitters in mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake, fine strain into cocktail glass. Float Basil leaf garnish on liquid.
Joseph Brooke of The Edison created a tasty and refreshing Appleseed Cooler. He wanted to focus on the Canton so used that as his main spirit. The cocktail was so simple and yet made a strong impression, successfully highlighting the ginger flavor. The drink was sweet but not overly so. I liked how, even though his apple garnish went missing, he was able to improvise by butterflying a grapefruit which ended up looking like jewelry.
The Appleseed Cooler
By Joseph Brooke of The Edison
- 2 oz Domaine de Canton
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz fresh-pressed Granny Smith apple juice
- 2 dashes celery bitters
Shake all and pour over rocks. Apple fan garnish.
But there could only be one winner of the title for best Domaine de Canton cocktail whose mixologist would also score $500. And that winner was…
Rebecca Windsor! Well, Damian Windsor of the Roger Room. Since he had to work this night, his wife, Rebecca, was kind enough to be his proxy. She’s an experienced bartender so it was no problem for her. Yay, Rebecca! Now, Damian’s cocktail is a variation on an existing cocktail at the Roger Room, so if you don’t want to make it yourself (recipe provided below) you can always visit the bar on La Cienega for the original version, or ask Damian to make you his winning cocktail. This drink was a beaut — fresh, effervescent and light.
Four Aces – updated
By Damian Windsor of The Roger Room
- 1.5oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
- .5 oz Hennessey VS cognac
- .5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 6 grapes and 4 basil leaves
Add grapes and basil leaves to a mixing tin and press to release oil and juice add liquid ingredients, ice, shake and strain on to fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a basil leaf.
Congrats to all the contestants, and cheers to my fellow judges. Especially Alex Day who clued me in to the use of a spit cup!