The Most Imaginative Bartender in America

The Most Imaginative Bartender in America

I was flipping through the December 2013 issue of GQ Magazine and saw a “GQ exclusive advertising section” titled “The Most Imaginative Bartender in America 2013.” The honor went to Julio Cabrera for his “Queen Victoria” cocktail. According to GQ, “The best bartenders don’t simply serve drinks… They create visionary cocktails by muddling, straining, peeling, and seeking out one-of-a-kind ingredients from across the globe. Every year, Bombay Sapphire salutes the men and women whose imaginative cocktails give us no choice but to order another round.”

This is a cool concept and over the last 12 months I’ve been trying to fall in love with gin. I’m not saying Bombay is the best gin available, as Total Wine & More has some delicious options, but they do have a big brand that is hard to ignore. With marketing opportunities like this, and getting love from brands like GQ, they are being seen and inspired a blog post from me!

Julio Cabrera bartends at The Regent Cocktail Club in Miami, Florida. He might have won this event, but there were several other world class bartenders on the list.

Julio Cabrera
The Regent Cocktail Club
Miami, Florida

Carley Dunavant
Austin, Texas

Frank Fontaine
Annie Bailey’s
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sean Michael Johnson
Seattle, Washington

Luke Edson
The Barry & Rye
Omega, Nebraska

Christian Sanders
New York, New York

Karen Grill
Los Angeles, California

Robert J. Jones
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Roger Gillespie
Vesper Bar
Las Vegas, Nevada

Ryan Pines
Edison Food + Drink Lab
Tampa, Florida

As you can see, great drinks are being made coast to coast. I have actually been to Vesper Bar, and while I don’t remember meeting Roger, I do remember it was a great experience.

“When mixing a spirit-only cocktail such as the Negroni, Martini, or Martinez, stir rather than shake to avoid diluting the liquid.”

For the seventh straight year, the United States Bartender’s Guild scoured the nation for the most imaginative bartender. In the end, 4 bartenders competed for top honors in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

GQ Magazine: Las Vegas Cocktail Competition

For this challenge, the judges looked for taste, presentation, and creativity. In the end, The “Queen Victoria” took the gold. Below is the recipe for this award winning cocktail.

1 1/2 parts Bombay Sapphire gin
1/2 part cucumber mint syrup, with a pinch of salt and black pepper
1/2 part lemon juice
1/2 part St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Shake well and serve in a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a cucumber wheel sprinkled with fresh salt and pepper; add a mint leaf on the rim of the glass. Finish with freshly ground black pepper on top of the cocktail.

According the Julio Canrera, the winning bartender, the “Queen Victoria” was inspired by a recent trip to Mumbai, and is an homage to the royal reflection on the label of every bottle of Bombay Sapphire. Cabrera is off to compete in the World’s Most Imaginative Bartender completion in London. Wish him luck. I’ll drink to that!

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