Dizzy Recap: Bootlegger 21 Vodka’s Amateur Mixology Showdown

The Bootlegger 21 Vodka Amateur Mixology Showdown winning cocktail, Veronica Criswell's Brooklyn Pearl.

On a stormy Saturday last month, three budding bartenders went shaker-to-shaker for the inaugural Bootlegger 21 Vodka Amateur Mixology Showdown. Held at a secret location in SoHo that was later revealed to be the former townhouse of Andy Warhol, the cocktail competition kicked off a Cotton Club-themed night of vintage cocktails, swing music, cigar smoking, poker playing, burlesque and all-around tomfoolery. The event, hosted by Adam Aleksander and Michael Arenella, celebrated the launch of Bootlegger 21 Vodka.

After announcing the contest here and narrowing down the finalists, the live showdown all came down to a people’s choice vote for the winner. It was an extremely close contest–I for one was impressed with the way the finalists managed to present cocktails that were both complex and well-balanced. They also served about 200 guests without missing a beat. In the end, Veronica Criswell (check out her demo video here) edged out Tom Flaschen and Garret Richard to win first prize, netting her four tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala. Each finalist went home with an OXO barware kit.

Watch out for these budding mixologists–they might not be amateurs for long!

First Place: Brooklyn Pearl by Veronica Criswell
1 oz. Bootlegger 21 Vodka
1 3/4 oz. Velvet Falernum
1/2 tsp rose water
1 egg white
Method: Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rinsed with Cointreau.

Tie for Second Place: Martinez Blanc by Tom Flaschen
2 oz. Bootlegger 21 Vodka
1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 tsp Maraschino liquer
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Garnish: maraschino cherry
Method: Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with maraschino cherry.

Tie for Second Place: Panacea Cocktail by Garret Richard
1.5 oz Cacao-Infused Bootlegger 21 Vodka*
1 oz Tawny Port (10 yr.)
.25 oz Cherry Heering
.25 oz Benedictine
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

*Rapid Cacao Infusion
Add 500 ml of room temperature Bootlegger 21 Vodka to a whip cream whipper
Add 75g of cacao nibs to your whip cream whipper
Charge with 2 8g chargers of N20 and swirl for 30 seconds
Settle mixture for 1 minute and 30 seconds
Vent the excess N20, and let it settle for 1 minute
Strain mixture, and bottle

The Finalists: Tom Flaschen, Veronica Criswell and Garret Richard.

And the winner, Veronica! Check out that trophy.

Garret Richard in action.

Tom Flaschen gets jigger-y with it.


The star hooch of the night, Bootlegger 21 Vodka.

Announcing: Bootlegger 21 NY Vodka’s Amateur Cocktail Showdown!

Bootlegger 21 Vodka, made right here in New York, is hosting a cocktail competition for budding drink-slingers. Three finalists will compete in a live showdown at the Bootlegger 21 launch party, an exclusive Cotton Club-themed bash in SoHo on April 16. Finalists will serve a crowd of thirsty industry veterans [including yours truly] and the winner will be selected by popular vote. Use of Bootlegger 21 as the primary ingredient, flavor, creativity, appearance and practicality will all be factors.

The contest is calling for original cocktail recipes that express the spirit of the Bootlegger and the Jazz Age.  Bootlegger 21 is distilled six times from 100% corn and made in the Hudson Valley.  The vodka has been awarded Gold medals from both the New York International Spirits Competition and from Beverage Testing Institute.

* Recipe must use Bootlegger 21 Vodka as the primary ingredient
* Please use no more than 5 ingredients (not including garnish)
* Include your story of how you came to appreciate mixology
* Submit a photo

The winner will celebrate their victory with 4 tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala on May 13, win the title of Bootlegger Amateur Mixologist 2011, and have the opportunity to mix cocktails at an upcoming Bootlegger 21 event.

Entrants must be 21 years of age and older. Cocktail recipes must be submitted by 5 p.m., Friday April 8 to BootleggerMixology@Gmail.com.

Good luck!