Who will be crowned the next sheik of shakers?
"It was great to beat the boys on Main Street – and I didn’t even have to dance on the table," says Bonnie Ulmer.
Last year, Ulmer, a Park City bartender since 1979, emerged as Park City’s Second Annual Cocktail Contest Champion in a field of men with her fresh Blueberry Mojito – a drink that was later promoted by the Park City Chamber/Bureau and Park City Restaurant Association at local restaurants and in national media outlets. It was also a drink that, in one day, was made 90 times for customers at Deer Valley Resort restaurants and at The Royal Street Café, where Ulmer currently tends bar.
Ulmer says she shares her golden martini glass trophy with friends and coworkers who helped by testing the mint-berry rum drink. "As Greg Schirf [owner of Wasatch Brew Pub] says, ‘We drink our share, then share the rest," she jokes.
And now, the barstool lab is back at it once again. Ulmer plans to face her male challengers once more this Wednesday at Kristauf’s Martini Bar with "something simple, but fun."
The contest will feature 15 bartenders and 12 judges including Julie Wilson, Deer Valley Resort’s food and beverage manager, John Saltas, founder of Salt Lake City Weekly, Craig Sanchez, Park City Golf Director and Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah’s president. The winning prize features a $100 check and two plaques – one for home, and one for the bar.
Eileen Dunn, president of the Restaurant Association says the contest is, in part, an effort to reverse the stigma attached to Utah’s strict liquor laws.
"I think events like these make a huge difference," she says. "It’s we’re all in support of it — we want to help reverse that stigma. We want to do anything market-wise to let people know that they can get a great cocktail in Park City and in Utah."
Jeff Ferguson, Shabu’s beverage director, says that the winning drink from the first annual cocktail contest, pomegranate-tinged Jupiter Cocktail, continues to be a hit with customers looking to match a drink with the restaurant’s "freestyle Asian cuisine." The drink was concocted by 350 Main Brasserie’s bartender, Larry Masterson, who claims to have perfected his bartending skills whil in high school in Central America.
Ferguson, who will be competing at Kristauf’s alongside Ulmer and Masterson, explains that when he tends bar at Shabu often people think they will automatically be served a weak drink.
"I think the contest is good – any type of commotion or awareness that sheds light on the weak Utah drink misconception is good for bars and restaurants, for sure," he argues.
The contest is also helping to hasten the evolution of Old Town’s bar scene, according to Steven "Max" Maxwell, also competing in Wednesday night’s mix-off.
"We’re seeing a lot more bars like The Side Car, Kristauf’s and The Spur Bar and Grill on Main Street, higher-end, sophisticated places, urban lounges," he observes. "Town is changing, attracting more educated people who like to order higher-end drinks It’s nice to see."
Maxwell traces the cocktail’s popularity to America’s prohibition era, when underground speakeasies strove to mask hard-to-swallow, bootlegged moonshine. He says the philosophy from the 1930s still stands: the best cocktails are the ones that disguise the taste of alcohol.
The Third Annual Park City Cocktail Contest
*When: Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.
*Where: Kristauf’s Martini Bar beneath Town Lift Plaza on Main Street
*What: The contest, billed as a "Libation Celebration" by the Park City Restaurant Association, will determine what drink will be promoted for the next year at local restaurants and in the media, nationwide.
*Why: to benefit the People’s Health Clinic. The Park City Restaurant Association plans to match the first $500 collected at the door. And to see what drink, and what bartender, will win the $100 prize. There will also be chances to take a sip of the cocktails in competition.
*Who: all those 21 and older are welcome to attend.
Contenders and judges of the Third Annual Park City Cocktail Contest
The mad mixologists
Larry Masterson, 350 Main Brasserie, winner of the first annual cocktail contest; Lial Gingell, Kristauf’s Martini Bar; Jeff Ferguson, Shabu; Drew Johnson, The Spur Bar and Grill; Spencer Cannon, Hapa Grill; Ron "Captain Ron" Lewis, Stein Erikson Lodge; Steven "Max" Maxwell, The Sidecar; Ron Lewis, Stein Erikson Lodge; Timmy Eggers, Done To Your Taste Catering; Bonnie Ulmer, Deer Valley’s Royal Street Café, winner of the second annual cocktail contest.
The discerning drinkers
Kris Severson, executive director of the Park City Jazz Foundation; Tyler Richardson, president of the Park City Board of Realtors; Cathy Miller, marketing and sales director for the Park City Chamber/Bureau; Kerry Jackson, X 96 Radio From Hell host; Julie Wilson, Deer Valley Resort’s director of food and beverage; John Saltas, columnist and founder of Salt Lake City Weekly; Ivan Radcliff, Olympic bobsledder; Carin DeMilo, the Sundance Institute; Craig Sanchez, Park City Golf director; Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah.
Deer Valley’s Royal Street Cafe’s Blueberry Mojito 2007-2008 Signature Cocktail
To make your own Blueberry Mojito, mix up the following: 1 handful mint leaves 1 Tsp. granulated sugar Quarter wedge of lime 1/2 to 3/4 cup lemonade 1 oz. light rum 2 Tbsp. fresh or frozen blueberries(1 Tbsp. smashed to create some juice) Splash of soda 1/2 oz. dark rum Sprig of mint for garnish Slice of lime for garnish *To ice in a tall 16-ounce glass, add mint leaves and sugar. Squeeze juice from the lime wedge into the glass. Mash the ingredients with the back of a spoon or a special wooden "muddler" until the mixture is fragrant. Fill glass with ice. Add lemonade until the glass is two-thirds full. Add splash of soda, then add light rum and blueberries and stir. Slowly pour dark rum into the drink so it floats on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime then serve.
350 Main’s Jupiter Cosmopolitan 2006-2007 Signature Cocktail
To make your own Jupiter Cosmopolitan, mix up the following: 1 oz. orange vodka ½ oz. Chambord ½ oz. pomegranate juice ½ oz. orange juice ½ oz. straight vodka
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