Last night I got the opportunity to help judge the Ultimate Ciroc Summer Cocktail Competition. The contest, put on by Ciroc and Baltimore magazine, involved 10 local bartenders creating cocktails using a base of Ciroc vodka, with proceeds from each drink benefiting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Throughout June and July, patrons were asked to try the various cocktails and vote for their favorite on our website.
The entire thing culminated at an event last night on the beautiful rooftop terrace of the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court (formerly the InterContinental). Each bartender had 10 minutes to create their Ciroc drink for the judges including myself, B&O Brasserie bar manager Brendan Dorr, Ulman Fund president and CEO Brock Yetso, and Reliable Churchill's business development manager Don Davolio. Baltimore contributor Gina Geppi emceed, as an audience full of industry insiders, Ulman Fund staff, and friends and family of the bartenders munched on appetizers, sipped on Ciroc cocktails, and looked on.
We rated each cocktail according to specific categories: presentation, appearance, aroma, and taste. Coming in third place was Meggan O'Rourke, bar manager at Blue Hill Tavern. She brought her pre-bottled cocktail called June Baby, a mixture of Ciroc, agave nectar, a fig and passion fruit tincture, grapefruit juice, and soda with lime. This was a refreshing summer drink that reminded me of an alcoholic Orangina. Coming in second was Bobby Kerfoot of Roy's Restaurant with his Rock'n Tahitian, a mix of Ciroc with muddled strawberries, raspberries, and lemongrass with fresh mint, lime, and an edible flower garnish. This was a sweeter, more tropical take on the vodka drink, but got points for its colorful appearance and fragrant mint.
The winning cocktail came from Trevor Ifill, a member of the Baltimore Bartender's Guild, who works at the Four Seasons Splash Pool Bar and Grill. He made a Tamarind-Ginger Tea, which he described as an international fusion of the African tamarind spice, hints of ginger, agave nectar, and, of course, Ciroc. The exotic flavors all combined for a spicy, herbal and, ultimately, bold cocktail. Another standout was the über-refreshing Summer Garden, made by Christian Parent (another BBG member) from Bad Decisions, with Ciroc and flower-blossom liqueur served over crushed ice with fresh strawberries, cucumbers, and mint. I also enjoyed The Fourth Estate, pictured, left, made by Francisco Cutter at Talara, a truer Ciroc martini with St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, a Champagne float, and grapes acting as olives—clean and delicious.
After all of the drinks were judged and awards were given out, the most important ceremony of the night took place: Yetso and his team at the Ulman Fund were handed a check for $3,000. I was honored to be apart of a truly fun event for such a wonderful cause. Keep a lookout for these cocktails, which should be on most of the menus throughout the summer.
[Photos by Meredith Herzing]