Judges before the contest.
I’ve had many, many cocktails in my life but never 28 cocktails in one sitting. But when I was invited to judge the Pinky Vodka Cocktail Competition at Nic’s Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills, that’s just what I had to do. Well someone had to pick the “next great mixologist to create a fresh cocktail for Pinky,” a rose-hued vodka made from glacial water and slightly sweet winter wheat that’s distilled five times and then hand blended with violets, rose petals, and 10 (!) other botanicals. The winner of the contest who could successfully create a new fab cocktail with this unusual floral, berry vodka would win an educational prize of $1,000 and a feature on PinkyVodka.com.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to judge these cocktails alone. I had the companionship of three other judges, and good ones: Natalie Bovis of The Liquid Muse, Magnus Waern (champion wine taster and co-creator of Pinky) and Dewey McBride (Southern Wine and Spirits). Plus we were armed with spit buckets, my personal savior here, so really didn’t have to consume one drop…if I didn’t want to.
Judges after the contest.
The recipes for the 28 drinks, which had been whittled down from 50, came from all over the United States, but mostly California. And we had to consider each for presentation, balance (can you taste the Pinky?), ease of serving (can someone make it at home and/or at hot spot bar?) and use of innovative ingredients.
There were many recipes that seemed too similar in nature and a whole bunch that were just too sweet while others used unusual ingredients which ranged from green onions to rosebuds to orchids dripping with syrup.
After about four or five hours of going through all the drinks and deliberating, we finally narrowed down the cocktails to five finalists. Here they are, from 5th to 1st place, including their recipes so you can try ’em at home. Look for the winner after the jump.
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My Pink Foot (Pinky Vodka)
5th place — My Pink Foot
By Joshua Pearson, Sepia, Chicago, IL
- 2 oz Pinky
- ½ oz Luxardo Maraschino
- 1 oz lemon juice
- Dash Fees Peach Bitters
- Drop rosewater
Add all ingredients to iced shaker. Shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with candied rose petals.
(To candy rose petals, paint edible rose petals with meringue powder, and coat with granulated sugar. Let set for 24 hours.)
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Anonymous Pinky (Pinky Vodka)
4th place — Anonymous Pinky
By Matt Wallace, 7 Grand, Los Angeles, CA
2 oz Pinky
¼ Red Bell Pepper, muddled
¾ oz simple syrup
¾ oz lime juice
3 dashes Rhubarb Bitters
Shake, strain over ice in a bucket. Garnish with salt-crusted bell pepper slice.
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Pinky Verde (Pinky Vodka)
3rd place — Pinky Verde
By Josh Valorosi, Luna Park, San Francisco, CA (last year’s winner)
Although this was crazy spicy and it was a favorite of most of the judges, we didn’t see this as a cocktail for everyone, a trait that the winning cocktail should possess. Plus, who has raw nopal cactus at the ready?
- 2 oz Pinky
- 1? x 1? piece of raw nopal cactus
- 2 x ¼? slices of jalapeño
- 3 key lime halves
- ½ oz St Germain
- Splash of simple syrup
- Salt/sugar/chili powder/cayenne rim
Muddle cactus and jalapeño with simple syrup. Add ice. Add Pinky, St Germain and key lime juice. Shake vigorously. Serve up in a martini glass with rim mixture. Garnish with triangle of nopal cactus.
Rim: 2 tablespoons of salt/sugar; I pinch each of dark chili powder and cayenne powder.
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Peppered Pinky (Pinky Vodka)
2nd place — Peppered Pinky
By Moe Talani, Mexico Restaurante, West Hollywood, CA
I really enjoyed the refreshing quality of this cocktail. So drinkable.
2 oz Pinky
1 small Mexican Lime (diced)
2 oz limeade
Pinch of Pink Peppercorns
Top with Ginger Beer
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass over ice, shake once and top with ginger beer.
And the winner is…
1st place — Sexy Pinky
By Tiquio Serratos, Javier’s, Newport Beach, CA
The judges enjoyed the simplicity and, at the same time, the use of the exotic guava nectar/jam which complements the flavors of the Pinky vodka nicely. And check out how easy it is to make.
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Sexy Pinky (Pinky Vodka)
- 2 oz Pinky
- ½ tsp of guayaba nectar or jam
- Splash soda water
- Squeeze lemon
- Splash agave nectar
Muddle and shake.