Thanks to the Drago Centro People’s Cocktail Contest last week, food blogger/photographer extraordinaire Jeni Afuso of Oishii Eats has just added “award-winning mixologist” to her list of accomplishments!
Some may have considered Jeni the dark horse contender in this contest. After all, she was going up against dedicated drink bloggers and cocktail enthusiasts Matt Robold of RumDood, Ron Diggity of Lush Angeles and Chuck Taggart of The Sporting Life Cocktail Community blog and The Gumbo Pages. But it was Jeni’s summery, peachy rendition, the Momo Rye Fizz — her use of Rittenhouse 100 no doubt helped — that won over the judges (me, Shauna of The Minty, Lesley of Tasting Table and Celestino Drago). We felt it was a natural fit for the downtown restaurant’s new summer cocktail menu that debuted the night of the contest.
When asked what inspired her to come up with her winning cocktail, Jeni said, “Summers are meant for muddling fruits and my favorite fruit to muddle are market fresh peaches. Peaches are a perfect match with rye whiskey bringing a great balance of spiciness, sweetness and citrus. Muddled peaches, rye whiskey, and summers months are meant to be.” Of course, I agree.
Surprisingly, Jeni, whose drink of choice is Corpse Reviver No. 2, is brand-new to mixology. She and her husband started their home bar just last spring thanks to a list of “must have” spirits recommended by a bartender at Bottega Louie. “And from there we kind of went crazy with the inventory. We started off mixing a lot of vintage drinks at first, with the Ramos Gin Fizz being my first cocktail. At that first shake, I was hooked,” she said. Lucky for us! For her next cocktail, Jeni says that although her husband is rooting for a Hello Kitty cocktail, she’s just been playing around with Ransom Old Tom Gin.
And no, Jeni doesn’t see bartending in her future. “I know I can’t be a bartender. My memory is horrible. For now, it’s fun having friends and family over at our place. My husband and I will make several cocktails a night. It’s fun and relaxing for us. We even have a tip jar. One night our moms left us a $40 tip. That’s fun enough for me.”
To see other pictures from the contest, head for the jump. There are also videos of Ron of Lush Angeles making his cocktail and Matt of RumDood talking about how he came up with his Dutch Elm Disease cocktail — a tasty, smokey mix of Bols Genever and Scotch.