Crowned: the spirit of Park City
Kristauf’s Martini Bar served as the stage and Park City Television cameras provided the spotlights. The excited murmur of an increasingly gregarious crowd, a few broken glasses and sporadic cheers for favorite bartending contestants supplied the soundtrack.
Kristauf’s Martini Bar’s own "martini slayer and master mixologist of adult libations," Lial Gingell, emerged as the star of Wednesday’s third annual Park City Cocktail Contest, the occasion of the rowdy gathering. For his award-winning act, Gingell presented "Pear Crisp," a fresh pear-and-peach liqueur concoction doused with a generous topping of Champagne. The bubbly preparation featured Gingell’s behind-the-bar dexterity: he stacked four shakers on top of one another to fill four martini glasses at once.
Gripping his significant other at his side he raised his golden martini glass, the honorary plaque awarded to the maker of the best drink.
"You can’t not have fun with this job that’s the No. 1 important thing to remember," he said.
Gingell confesses his "Pear Crisp" has previously won accolades — first, during a private drink competition during this year’s Sundance Film Festival and later this June in "In" magazine for "Drink of the Week." It is also the best-selling cocktail at Kristauf’s, he says.
But the competition was, as they say in the business, stiff. Gingell surpassed the runners-up by a few points out of a possible 100.
Second runner-up Steven "Max" Maxwell, representing The Sidecar for the evening, stirred up an inspired mountainscape drink, with nut brown Kahlua as the Wasatch mountains, Bailey’s Cream as snow and Blue Curacao as Utah’s blue cerulean skies. Maxwell called it "The Snowscape" and the panel of 12 judges marveled at its likeness to the contest’s poster that features a photo of a mountain contained in a martini glass.
First runner-up Drew Johnson, from The Spur Bar and Grill, whipped up a drink he named "The Kat Mint Martini." The drink was a fresh, yet economical, judge-pleaser, combining basic behind-the-bar ingredients Bacardi 151, Malibu Rum, and a splash of Coca-Cola over muddled mint leaves. During the competition, half way in, Johnson seemed to have the lead amongst the panel members. Judge Mike Wong, owner of The Sidecar remarked, "A lot of these drinks have had too much sugar and that’s like too much mayo in a tuna fish sandwich. Drew’s kept the sweetness to a minimum."
"It’s refreshing and easy to drink it’s got my vote so far," judge Carin DeMilo, Sundance Film Festival Party Planner, said at the mid-way point. DeMilo was looking for the drink that could "add a curl to her coif" and "luster to her locks," and, owing to the next-to-lethal Bacardi 151, Johnson’s brew did the trick.
Rivalries aside, the night remained light-hearted. Drink by drink, a marked change occurred as the harrowing competition unfolded, revealing a much more relaxed panel, some of whom excused themselves more than once from the table to take a time out. "At first I was nervous," admitted first-time judge Kris Severson, executive director of the Park City Jazz Foundation as cocktail number 11 of 12 was called. "Now I’m not so nervous anymore."
Severson extolled the event with a thumbs up. "It celebrates the Park City spirit," he said.
His comment was seconded by other judges as well, including Christian Gennerman, recently retired from his position as hard goods manager for Backcountry.com. "It’s really a fantastic opportunity for bartenders to show their style," he said. "The fact is the bottom line you can get a cocktail in Utah."
Third Annual Cocktail Contest Winners
Wednesday, Nov. 7, Park City bartenders gathered at Kristauf’s Martini Bar. The winner received $100 and a golden martini glass, as well as future recognition in marketing and promotion for Park City nationwide.
Lial Gingell, Kristauf’s Martini Bar
The Pear Crisp:
1oz. Grey Goose Le’ Poire
1/2 oz. Peach Schnapps
A Splash pineapple juice
Float Cook’s Brut Champagne on top
1st RUNNER UP
Drew Johnson, The Spur Bar and Grill
Cat Mint Martini:
1 oz. Malibu Rum
5-8 leaves Muddled Mint Leaves
½ oz. Bacardi 151
Splash of Coke
2nd RUNNER UP
Steven "Max" Maxwell, The Sidecar Bar
½ oz. 360 Vodka
¾ oz. Kahula
½ oz. Bailey’s
½ oz. Blue Curacao
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