Friday, December 10, 2010

Repeal Day Cocktail Winners

Three cocktails were judged to be the cream of the crop at the 2nd annual Los Angeles Repeal Day cocktail competition sponsored by Plymouth Gin and named for Jimmy Barela, who tended bar at Cole's Red Car Bar for 63 years.  First place went to Oliver Jones of Las Perlas, the downtown mezcal bar, for his Myrtle Berry Flip.  Second place went to Naomi Schimek of First & Hope for her Remembrance cocktail and third place went to newcomer Garrett McKechnie of 1886 for his Molly Pitcher Club cocktail.

The contest was held in the Varnish, the classic cocktail bar accessed through the back of Cole's.  Several dozen area bartenders submitted recipes and twelve were selected to make their cocktails for a panel of judges that included Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer prize winning chief restaurant critic at LA Weekly, Chris Bostick, the General Manager of the Varnish, Erick Castro, the Brand Ambassador for Plymouth Gin, and Jessica Gelt of the Los Angeles Times. The contest was sponsored by Plymouth Gin, so all entries had to use at least 1.5 oz of Plymouth, and at most five ingredients.

The winners were announced at the Repeal Day party at Seven Grand and the crowd cheered when Jones's name was called. He won $500 in prize money along with the acclaim of the crowd and the title of Jimmy Barela Award Winner. Jones's cocktail The Myrtle Berry Flip is a "flip" cocktail, which means that it includes egg whites and is shaken. He also used blueberry jam and garnished his cocktail with a sprig of myrtle, thus the name of the drink.

Schimek has been gaining attention for her market driven cocktails and the Remembrance included a pear-infused sherry and rosemary syrup, both of which she made for the occasion. Shimeck commented about the origin of the cocktail and its name, "Rosemary has been associated with strength of memory and remembrance of loved ones since ancient times, especially at funerals and weddings, ceremonies, etc. I'm always fascinated by the mythology associated with different herbs.  The flavors of pear and rosemary combine together naturally with such a beautiful result.  I wanted to illustrate that in a cocktail, and it's perfect for the holiday time of year."  To complete her effect, Schimek brought her own vintage coupe glasses.

McKechnie said he named his cocktail the Molly Pitcher Club after the 1920s women's anti-Prohibition organization in New York.  The club itself was named for a famous Revolutionary War heroine.  McKechnie said he thought it appropriate to name his drink after such an organization as the contest celebrated Repeal Day, the end of Prohibition, and it was a feminine cocktail.  McKechnie is one of the crop of talented bartenders at 1886, the new bar from Marcos Tello and Aidan Demarest in the back of the Raymond in Pasadena.

For the winning cocktail recipes, check out ThirstyinLA's coverage.

Schimek and McKechnie celebrate on Repeal Day

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