October 4, 2018 – Her name is Carley Gaskin and she hails from Chicago. She is the North American Winner of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) 12th Annual “Most Imaginative Bartender” Competition presented by Bombay Sapphire Gin. The story of how she won this title and what she and other contestants went through is worth considering.
Her recipe, Geb’s Reviver (recipe below) “…demonstrated an extraordinary level of artistry in this year’s competition…” said Tom Spaven, Bombay Sapphire’s North American Brand Director. She created a competition drink menu featuring all no-waste and sustainable ingredients. This was her personal theme and it is one of growing interest and importance in the bar world.
Winning a competition like this is not for the faint-hearted. Just look at the challenges she and others had to get through. It started with USBG’s selection committee for the Most Imaginative Bartender Competition traveling to 30 North American cities to identify the top 16 finalists – 14 from the U.S. and two from Canada – from the hundreds of candidates that participated.
The finalists gathered at Tales of the Cocktail, an annual trade event in New Orleans, for the first test called The On-Air Challenge. This tested their presentation skills in front of a live camera and audience.
Next, the lucky contestants went to England to the Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire where Bombay Sapphire gin is made. Here they faced the Laverstoke Botanical Challenge. Each finalist was assigned one of the 10 vapor-infused natural botanicals that are in the Bombay gin recipe. Finalists were tasked with creating an avant-garde recipe that celebrated the botanical’s country of origin and its unique flavor. Wow. That sounds tricky.
16 Final Presentations:
The second challenge had each of the 16 finalists present an original Bombay Sapphire cocktail, which illustrated the fusion between art and mixology. The judges then narrowed the competition down to the top six contestants who advanced to the final stage.
This was the Grand Finale. The top six bartenders were tasked with designing a bespoke cocktail menu at a top London bar, having only one day to source local ingredients in order to batch and prepare three different gin-forward recipes. Imagine the stress of doing this in a foreign country!
The rewards of winning this competition are multiple. Besides the title, trophy and cash award, Carley Gaskin will also become GQ Magazine’s official “Bartender in Residence. Here she will collaborate on a series of cocktail videos, act as the in-house cocktail expert throughout the year, and partner with a chef from Bon Appetit’s “Hot Ten” list of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2018 to create specialty cocktail pairings.
Below is the recipe for her winning cocktail, “Geb’s Reviver”.
1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
.75 oz pineapple lemon oleo
.5 oz lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Matcha powder
Method: Combine all ingredients and shake. Top with pineapple, carrot, Bombay Sapphire foam. Garnish with dehydrated rhubarb and carrot powder.