by Steven Doyle photos by Mary Szefcyk
One of the more entertaining parts of my work is that I am graciously asked to judge cocktail competitions. Sometimes these are hardcore Bartending Guild contests pitting area bartenders for glorious prizes including trips and cash, other times it can be a specific brand that looking to entertain the public and industry folks who actually sell the spirits. In this time I have witnessed quite a few gimmicks that prove entertaining that had the competitors doing such antics as performing stand up and heaving push ups on the bar in order to curry favorable points. It almost seems the smaller the budget the more outrageous the event becomes, as we witnessed last evening with a particular contest held at Lark on the Park by Monkey Shoulder.
Monkey Shoulder is very new to Texas and has made a huge impact with many of the bartenders in North Texas. The spirit is spectacular, affordable and extremely mixable. Monkey shoulder is a triple vatted blended whiskey brought to you by the same makers of such whiskeys as Balvenie and Glenfiddich, both used in the blend, and aged in bourbon casks for up to 12 years.
Interesting enough, the name Monkey Shoulder is an industry term for the condition spurred on by turning barley. Consider it an homage to those who take great physical pain to produce your very dram.
The event was a wacky scavenger hunt across downtown and uptown Dallas. The hunt had the team of bartenders roam through Klyde Warren park seeking fresh herbs and fruits to use in their cocktails. They also had to pay a visit to “the lady in red” sitting at the Savor bar. After plying he with a cheesy pick up line the lady supplied the team with exotic cups that were required for use in the competition. As the teams scurried across the city they were also required to supply photographs that were t be used later that evening for additional points.
The actual drink portion was judged by Dallas Morning News man about town, Mr. Dallas, brand ambassador Freddy May and myself. We probably laughed more than we judged having to stare down the bartenders festooned with sombreros and a wide assortment of costumes. You may recognize some of the names on the winning team which included Scott Melton, Mate Hartai, Thomas Tompkins and Brian McCullough. They made a smoked cocktail using their gathered ingredients and a cute monkey garnish that Hartai carved from a citron.
Freddy May is taking this show on the road. He did the hunt in New York the previous evening, and is in Austin tonight. This is all to bring awareness that Monkey Shoulder is a very good spirit with a sense of humor. And that is what it is all about.
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