This past Monday, the Third Annual Bärenjäger Bartender Competition went down at The Tippler, where six talented bartenders mixed their way through an intense contest – they each had to provide judges and attendees with a delicious and original cocktail featuring Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur. About 400 submissions were considered for the competition, and this night showcased the top six.
Todd Richman acted as the emcee, while DJ Bedtyme spun some tunes for the attendees to drink to. Judges included Geoffrey Zakarian of Iron Chef and Chopped fame, as well as Dushan Zaric of Employees Only and Macao Trading Co.; Bridget Albert, Southern Wine & Spirits Regional Director of Mixology; Tad Carducci, mixologist, restaurateur and Tippling Brother; and Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common’s bartender and bar manager.
The judges circulated around the bar through the night, stopping at every station and tasting each bartender’s drinks while also taking notes.
The grand prize: an all expenses paid trip for two to this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, as well as $1,000! There was also a runner-up “People’s Choice” prize, with that runner receiving $1,000.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t familiar with Bärenjäger, however, the competition gave me more than an introduction to the honey liqueur so that by the end of the night, I was pretty well versed. The crowd seemed to be having a great time, and the bartenders were extremely knowledgable and friendly (perhaps trying to work the crowd for the People’s Choice prize!). Attendees eagerly circulated throughout the bar in order to taste all six cocktails, and we were also given our own ballot on which we could choose our favorite drink.
Our favorites? We really enjoyed the BareEnrager, a spicier drink involving tequila and cayenne pepper, crafted by John Henderson of Boston. We also liked the Brassneck by Ryan James Gannon of New Orleans, a very orange-y drink that also featured rum and curacao.
As for the winners? Luckily, one of our favorites came through as the People’s Choice winner – Ryan James Gannon and his Brassneck cocktail! The winning drink of the night went to Katie Loeb (also known as the Booze Muse) of Philadelphia, who created the delicious Barenberry Mule. Additionally, Katie Loeb is the competition’s first female winner, and therefore, the reigning Queen Bee. Congratulations, Katie!
If you want to recreate these drinks and see what the rave was all about, try out the recipes below.
Brassneck by Ryan James Gannon: New Orleans, Louisiana
In a mixing glass, combine:
1.5 parts El Dorado 5 Year old Rum
¾ parts Barenjager Honey Liqueur
.5 parts Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
2 dashes angostura orange bitters
Add ice to the mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange peel.
Barenberry Mule by Katie Loeb: Philadelphia, PA
In a shaker, combine:
2 parts Rittenhouse 100 proof Rye Whiskey
1 part Barenjager honey liqueur
1 part fresh lemon juice
¾ parts Berry Thyme Essence
2 dashes peychaud’s bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well and strain into a highball glass full of fresh ice. Top with Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew Ginger beer and garnish with a lemon twist and a blackberry.