Tag Archives: Sidecar by Merlet cocktail competition

Drink of the Week: Stone Cold Jane Austen

I had the opportunity to judge the Sidecar by Merlet cocktail competition alongside Luc Merlet and molecular mixologist Tony Conigliaro during last weekend’s Art of the Cocktail festival.

Fifteen bartenders from Calgary and Edmonton came together inside the Bourbon Room at National on 10th to add their own creative twist to a Sidecar and to create an original cocktail using either Excellia tequila or G’Vine gin. Each competitor had a mere six minutes to shake up two different drinks while charming us with the story behind them (sporting old-school beards, bow-ties and vests added to the showmanship, but was not a requirement!). We then had to judge each competitor on their performance and the inspiration behind the drink, as well as the drink itself: appearance, smell and taste, balance, interplay of ingredients, and how well it highlighted the Merlet products (cognac and triple sec for the Sidecars).

I was nervous at first being on a panel with two cocktail aficionados who between them could likely create all the cocktail menus in Calgary, but after we compared notes half way through and I saw that we were on the same page when it came to scoring (e.g. we all liked the same drinks best), I became more confident in my palate.

Competition winner Jimmy Nguyen of Teatro knows his way around a cocktail shaker -- and all the ingredients of a Sidecar.

Winner Jimmy Nguyen of Teatro knows his way around a cocktail shaker — and all the ingredients of a Sidecar. Image courtesy Art of the Cocktail.

In the end Jimmy Nguyen of Teatro won the competition and the grand prize — a trip to France — by presenting us with a perfectly balanced Sidecar enhanced by a citrus sugar rim on the glass and a lemon juice and grape tea foam set atop the drink.

Though I am a fan of the classic Sidecar, I have to say that sampling 15 different ones in a row was palate-puckering. It was a nice break to try the creative gin and tequila cocktails. My favourite was the Stone Cold Jane Austen by Edmonton bartender Evan Watson of Woodwork. It’s like a White Lady meets Corpse Reviver #2 (one of my favourite gin cocktails). The peppercorn-lemongrass simple syrup made this drink, in my opinion, and the peppercorn garnish was a beautiful finishing touch. Do try this at home.

The peppercorns and the interplay of gin, lemon juice and triple sec make this drink.

The peppercorns and the interplay of gin, lemon juice and triple sec make this drink. Image courtesy Art of the Cocktail.

Stone Cold Jane Austen

  • 2 oz G’Vine Nousaison gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Merlet Trois Citrus
  • 1/2 oz pink peppercorn lemon grass simple syrup (sorry, no recipe)
  • Egg white
  • 3 dashes Black Pepper Bitters and cracked black peppercorns
  • Garnish: Cracked pink and black peppercorns
  • Glass: old fashioned

Method: Combine the first six ingredients in a chilled shaker tin, then place six black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and break them into a coarse grind. Place a pinch of this grind into the shaker tin, then dry shake. Next, add ice and hard shake, then single strain into a chilled old fashioned glass. Muddle pink peppercorns and black peppercorns in the mortar and pestle, then use a pinch of the combined mixture to garnish.

— Recipe courtesy Evan Watson, Woodwork

Art of the Cocktail is coming to Calgary

Two years ago I attended Art of the Cocktail in Victoria. The annual cocktail festival celebrates cocktail culture in B.C.’s capital while educating mixed drink enthusiasts about cocktail trends, spirits and the art of combining ingredients in a shaker. In between spirited sips I learned all about gin and I visited local distillers while enjoying Victoria in early October.

Get ready for drinks shaken and stirred as the Art of the Cocktail (AOTC) comes to Calgary April 5-7. Image courtesy AOTC.

Get ready for drinks shaken and stirred as the Art of the Cocktail (AOTC) comes to Calgary April 5-7. Image courtesy AOTC.

Fast forward a couple years and festival organizers have deemed Calgary cocktail-forward enough to warrant hosting Art of the Cocktail here. Art of the Cocktail: Calgary takes place April 5-7 and promises to entertain, educate and inebriate cocktailians in Cowtown at well known lounges including the Bourbon Room, Milk Tiger, Model Milk and Raw Bar at Hotel Arts. I’ll be reporting on the festival and emerging cocktail trends for the Calgary Herald, as well as judging the Sidecar by Merlet cocktail competition alongside Tony Conigliaro and Luc Merlet on April 7.

The festival isn't all seminars. Be sure to register for boozy events like the Three Martini Lunch at Yellow Door Bistro.

The festival isn’t all seminars. Be sure to register for boozy events like the Three Martini Lunch at Yellow Door Bistro. Image courtesy AOTC.

Check out these events and seminars:

  • The Grand Tasting on April 5 has the most mass appeal as guests are able to try old and new cocktails that feature familiar and unique spirits and liqueurs, that are paired with appetizers from local chefs.
  • There’s a Mad Men-style Three Martini Lunch at Yellow Door Bistro that pairs a trio of gin martinis with three courses between noon and 1:30 p.m. on April 5 (don’t plan to drive afterwards).
  • Not-to-miss seminars include The Next Trend (spoiler alert… vermouth) and, for budding home bartenders, Developing Original Drinks with Tony Conigliaro, both on April 6. If you’re ready to mix drinks with liquid nitrogen then Joshua Groom will show you how during Cocktail FX, which explores liquid molecular gastronomy, on April 7.

Art of the Cocktail Calgary is our city’s chance to showcase its emerging cocktail culture. Sounds like fun, right? Tickets are available here. See you there!