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Bourbon Classic Cocktail Challenge: Our Kind of Super Bowl

While sports fans were gearing up for a weekend of all things Broncos and Seahawks, Nikki and I were training for our own favorite form of competition – the 2014 Bourbon Classic Cocktail ChallengeThis, my friends, is our kind of Super Bowl.

The second annual event took place in Louisville’s beautiful Kentucky Center lobby, with seven teams of master super-cute bartenders matched with acclaimed super-cute chefs, each pair matched again with a delish distillery, and all competing for the title of the best classic and contemporary bourbon-based concoctions.

We, of course, felt compelled to sample from each of the purveyors of perfection. Here’s a look at the paired competitors:

Angel’s Envy
Bradley Hammond, Rye on Market

Chef Terry French, Extreme Chef, Philadelphia



Blanton's
Chris Wilkins, Proof on Main

Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main



Buffalo Trace
Colin Shearn, El Camino

Chef Jonathan Lundy, Jonathan's at Gratz Park, Lexington



Jim Beam
Isaac Fox, Volare

Chef Josh Moore, Volare



Michter's
JR Schiavi, Jack Fry's

Chef Shawn Ward, Jack Fry's



Wild Turkey
Susie Hoyt, Silver Dollar

Chef Tyler Powell, Silver Dollar

Woodford Reserve
Jacquelyn Zykan, La Coop

Chef Bobby Benjamin, La Coop

Our favorite cocktail actually won the competition –hey, we know cocktails. Congratulations to Proof’s Chris Wilkins. His creation, Fancy Free, took top honors. Recipe below. And darling Bobby Benjamin of La Coop took the top prize for his Brussel Sprout Salad, though we thought his Chicken and Waffles also deserved a big prize.

On top of all that fun, the Bourbon Classic offers tons of educational workshops, a chance to meet master distillers and bourbon authors and plenty more tasting opportunities.

This event was one of the best we’ve attended in ages. If you love bourbon, or even like it just a little, I highly recommend!

Recipe for the Winning Cocktail

Fancy Free
By Chris Wilkins, Proof on Main

2 oz Blanton’s Bourbon
.5 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain neat and garnish with orange peel.

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