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Crowd Devours Phoenix

Bartending Competition

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Devoured Phoenix

Images From The Event
by Brittany Lind

The Liquor-Based Offshoot Of The Devoured Phoenix Culinary Event Spotlights Some Of The Best Drink-Makers In The Phoenix Metro Who, Like The Attendees, All Went Home As Winners


By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

March 3, 2015 - As it turns out, when some of the best bartenders from around Phoenix get together to compete in a drink off, everyone wins. Literally.

The Sixth Annual Devoured Phoenix Bartending Competition ended with a bit of a thud when every competitor received a prize. Sure, all of candidates put forward a great effort and each drink delivered something noteworthy, but the whole ‘participatory ribbon’ feel of the event made it seem like 6th grade Little League.

The event challenged the nine bartenders in competition to create a unique cocktail using one of the three liquors provided by Arizona Distilling Co.: moonshine, bourbon or gin.

A panel of four professional judges, including last year’s winner Mike Allmandinger from The Parlor, voted on the night’s top prize. The other eight were supposedly voted on by attendees, but the fact that every participant happened to win an award stinks of collusion.

Collusion I tell you!

Still, even if there were a few hanging chads on the voting ballots, the event was an enjoyable one and I didn’t see one person in the crowd who wasn’t having a good time (probably because most of them were quite toasted). The bartenders really brought out their A-game and delivered cocktails that were both unique and enjoyable.

My personal favorite was Blood, Sweat and Bourbon, a spicy-sweet concoction made by St. Francis’ Titus Fauntleroy. The drink utilized a bourbon base with bit of Almendrado to take the edge off. The real kicker, though, was the mixture of blood orange juice and Fresno chili peppers that provided the perfect balance of sweetness with a spicy finish.

My personal runner ups were Punch. Drunk. Love from Culinary Dropout and Three If By Desert from The Pink Pony.

I also have to give a shoutout to Tawni Koons from Maizie’s Cafe & Bistro. Anyone who features sweet corn and Tabasco sauce in a drink has some serious creativity. It tasted a little too much like chowder for my liking, but my hat’s off to her: She thought outside of the box.

The large crowd had the chance to try all of the cocktails in competition at booths outside before shuffling in to The Crescent Ballroom to watch all three rounds of competition. In each round, three of the bartenders took the stage to make their cocktail entry for the panel of judges.

Crowd coverage for the first round was sparse, most likely because many folks were still waiting in line to get in or still sampling cocktails outdoors. As the afternoon were on (and drink tickets were used) more people came inside to watch the competition.

Enthusiasm and liquid courage were ever-present and the crowd showed a lot of love for the bartenders. Libby Longlott of The Parlor was a real crowd favorite as was Fauntleroy of St. Francis (mostly with the ladies).

Brandon Casey of Citizen Public House and The Gladly took home the judge’s top prize with Springtime Shine! The moonshine-based drink tasted a lot like a melted bomb pop or fancy jungle juice, which kind of turned me off. I like to actually taste a bit of the alcohol in my drink.

All kidding aside, the drink was mighty tasty and the orgeat and raspberry cider helped to seriously remove the edge from the moonshine, which is no easy feat. I would much rather get drunk on it at the next dorm party I crash than ever taste actual jungle juice again. It was definitely a favorite of the 40-something cougars who made up a large portion of the crowd, and you can’t blame the judges for rewarding a bartender who played to the audience.

Ticket holders received tasters of all nine cocktails (plus the three Arizona Distilling Co. spirits) and voted using a card they were given at the door. So, I’d say the entrance price is definitely worth it.

Check out the winners:

Best Cocktail
Brandon Casey of Citizen Public House for the moonshine-based Springtime Shine!
1.5 Oz Copper City Moonshine
.5 Oz Blackberry Shrub
.25 Oz Orgeat
Lime zest
Shake and dump into glass
Top with Wyders dry raspberry cider
Garnish with bouquet of mint and a lemon zest

People’s Choice Award
Shawn Gabor of Pink Pony for the gin-based Three If By Desert
1 1/2 oz Desert Dry Gin
1 oz Citrus Ginger Water
Shake and strain over ice.
Top with 1 1/2 oz Cardamom Marjoram Soda Garnish with Citrus Ginger Brittle & Thyme Salt.

Most Unique Garnish
Lyndsi Hastings-Mundy of Culinary Dropout for the bourbon-based Punch. Drunk. Love.
1.5 oz Brown Butter washed Copper City Bourbon
.5 oz Demerara sugar cinnamon simple
.75 oz Earl grey reduction
.5 oz lemon
.5 oz apple cider

Most Innovative Flavor
Tawni Koons of Maizie’s Cafe for the moonshine-based Midtown Maize
1/4 cup fresh organic sweet corn, muddled
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. organic light corn syrup
1 1/2 oz. Copper City Moonshine
2 dashes jalapeño Tabasco
Garnished with candied lime jalapeños

Best Visual Presentation
Libby Longlott of The Parlor for moonshine-based The Roosevelt
2 oz Copper City Moonshine
.25 Yellow Chartreuse
.75 White Pepper & Sage simple syrup
1 oz Fresh Lemon juice
1 Bar Spoon St. Dalfour Apricot Preserve
The Bitter Truth bitters mist
Garnish: floating lemon wheel w/ expressed sage leaf.

Best Dressed
Titus Fauntleroy of St. Francis who made the bourbon-based Blood, Sweat and Bourbon
1oz Copper City Bourbon
3/4oz Almendrado
3/4oz Fresh Squeezed lime juice
1oz Fresh Squeezed blood orange juice
Fresno chili pepper

Friendliest Bartender
Andrew Gilchrist of Hula’s Modern Tiki, who made the gin-based The Uptown Patio
2 halfed kumquats
3 mint leaves
1 barspoon of powdered sugar
1 pinch of Chinese 5 spice
2 oz of Desert Dry Gin
1/2 of cherry brandy
1/2 oz of lemon juice
1 edible flower

Best Use of Craft Spirit
Matt Farrow of The Windsor for the bourbon-based No. 33
2 oz Chamomile-infused Copper City Bourbon
1.5 oz lemon juice
1 oz Sonoran White Wheat syrup
1.5 oz local kumquat foam
Garnished with kumquat-wrapped Luxardo Cherry

Best Technique
Michael Soo of Crudo for the gin-based The Pain of Battle
2.5 oz Desert Dry Gin
.5 oz Amer Gingembre
1 oz Pure pressed apple juice
.75 oz Fresh pineapple juice
.75 oz Coco Lopez
.5 oz Fresh lime juice
2 dashes AZ Bitters Lab Mi Casa Bitters
Combine all ingredients except bitters in mixing tin.
Shake with ice.
Double strain into tiki mug filled with crushed ice
Add two dashes of AZ Bitters Lab Mi Casa Bitters to mug and swizzle to combine
Garnish with orange peel and mint flower
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