Dimitrios Elias Zahariadis puts the finishing touches on his cocktail
The first ever Cocktail Wars stirred up some action yesterday at Kawa Ni. People began gathering around 5, pregaming with cocktails, good company, and plenty of good spirits (both kinds). The anticipation built up as Chefs Bill and Jeff Taibe and Beverage Manger Jeff Marron waited for the action to begin.
The contestants (listed below and in our Facebook slideshow) were off in the corner, trash talking and just catching up. During all of this, the staff at Kawa Ni brought out plenty of snacks and treats from Joe Farrell of Walrus + Carpenter. There was crispy edamame, pork rind nachos, hush puppies, chicken livers with toast, and fried olives, so plenty to snack on.
As the action began to start, Jeff Marron talked to people around the restaurant, bubbling up with excitement. “I’m so excited to see them compete becase they all have different styles,” we heard him say. And, while each contestant was able to bring an ingredient from home, they were dying to find out the secret ingredient. And, that ingredient? An Ancho Chile licor called Ancho Reyes.
Westport Sake Bomb!
With a ceremonial sake bomb, Jeff kicked it off! The mixologists didn’t seem fazed by the time constraint of 30 minutes; they worked methodically crushing, mixing, slicing, smoking, and shaking. Midway through the contest, Jeff dropped more sake bombs on the competitors!
In a frantic countdown, the action finally ended. Jeff, servers, and the competitors brought their drinks over to a table so that people could take as many photos as they’d like. From there, the industry and foodie judges judged each cocktail based on presentation, aroma, taste, and use of the secret ingredient. There were also cocktails set around Kawa Ni, so that the audience members could taste all six cocktails.
Jon Kraus accepts the applause of the audience and the friendly jeers from his fellow and loved bartender friends
In the end, it came down to Carlos Garcia coming in third, Carl Summa coming in second, and Jon Kraus taking home first place. Be on the lookout in a month or so for the next round of Cocktail Wars. You’ll be able to make reservations, win shots at being in the audience, and being a judge.
- Dimitrios Elias Zahariadis – USBGCT Founder, President USBGCT, The Cocktail Chemist Founder/Partner, Waterbury, CT
- Carl Summa – USBGCT Vice President, Bar Manager Main Street Grill, The Cocktail Chemist Partner
- Carlos Garcia – USBGRI Bartender New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, Providence, RI
- Jon Kraus – USBGNY Principal Bartender, The Gilroy, New York, New York
- Christopher Almeida USBGRI President, Rhode Island
- James Menite – USBGNY Vice President, Head Bartender at The Plaza Hotel, New York, New York