Saturday, November 29, 2014

“Trade Up” Puts A New Spin On Old Libations

Thanks to Martin Miller’s Gin, played out cocktails are given a second chance.

If I told you I went to Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium and only ordered AMFs and Fuzzy Navels, two things would probably come to mind.

First, what genius on the “Seattleite” editorial staff decided it was a good idea to dispatch such a Neanderthal to one of Seattle’s best bars? Second, how disdainful was the look on owner and cocktail master Jamie Boudreau’s face?

Yet, there I was on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 8, watching Mr. Boudreau whip up these much-maligned cocktails — except these weren’t versions you’d find on the typical Hawaiian honeymoon. This was the “Trade Up” cocktail competition.

The event was sponsored by Martin Miller’s Gin, who sent out a plea (of sorts) to bartenders across America, hoping to inspire new renditions of popular cocktails from the 1970s and 80’s. More than 50 submissions were whittled down to five, which were presented to those in attendance — and yes, there was plenty of Sex on The Beach.

The two Beach drinks were on par with one another; the “Dicaprio” won out on taste, while the “21st Century Sex on The Beach” dazzled with aroma and presentation, thanks to peach-cranberry foam topped with flaming peach bitters. The pyrotechnics didn’t end there; the “Cruentus Umbilecus” (Bloody Navel) literally set fire to a traditional Fuzzy Navel, thanks to a flaming blood orange peel.

Junior Ryan — from Clyde Common in Portland, Ore. — submitted the winning drink. Drawn from the Playboy Cocktail Book, the “Strega Sour” was the perfect blend of aroma and taste and the construction was impeccable, with egg whites, honey and earl grey syrup.

Strega Sour

  • 1½ ounces Martin Miller’s Westbourne Gin
  • ¾ ounce Strega Liqueur
  • ¾ ounce Lemon Juice
  • ½ Egg White
  • 1 teaspoon 2:1 Honey and Earl Grey Syrup
  1. Combine all ingredients and dry shake.
  2. Shake with ice and serve with a dash of Angostura.

A competition like this probably won’t spark a movement to revamp drink menus in Seattle. Even if your favorite craft cocktail den starts to churn out sophisticated tropical drinks, there’s still that awkward feeling after the final sip of a Singapore Sling when it’s time to go home and you remember it’s 40 degrees outside. Perhaps some drinks are best served close to the Equator — but thanks to “Trade Up,” Northwest mixologists still get the opportunity to make them interesting.

About John Ferensen

A life-long Seattleite, John credits his discerning palette to an extraordinary experience working with a great food critic in Seattle. His tastes morphed into liquid form, and he now searches high and low for Seattle’s best cocktails. Armed with a journalism degree from Washington State University, John isn’t limited to just tasty delights; his expertise includes pop culture, fashion, night life and the driving tendencies of Seattle motorists. Even though he can be found every Monday night planted on the couch watching Gossip Girl, he still considers Omar Little to be the greatest character in TV history, and has watched The Wire four times through. His one wish in life is to have an NBA team back in Seattle. For more of John, follow him on Twitter.
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