By the time you read this, the final judging will have occurred. However, we won't know who the winners are until Saturday, June 6, when the envelopes are opened. This year has been challenging, as evidenced by the number of ties. This year's final judging is the biggest ever, with a record number of martinis and cocktails for the judges to sip and savor. Who said this job was easy?
As I go over my own notes and review how I scored the martinis this year, my scores mostly match up to the finalists. But I'd like to point out those martinis and cocktails that I thought were great and deserved to be given some recognition, despite the fact that the other judges didn't like them enough to bump them into the finals.
In the classic martini category, the bars making it to the finals are Chandlers, Pair, Bardenay and Red Feather. Although I'm writing this prior to the final judging, I can say that three of those bars were in my top four. I would like to point out that Tablerock Brewpub had a pretty darn good classic martini called the Judge Smails, of Caddyshack fame. This Plymouth gin martini with Lillet, Citronge and a lime wheel garnish was not only right in line with classic recipes (albeit a modern twist with the Citronge), but also carried through with their Caddyshack theme of the evening. (They originally wanted to call their theme "Golf Pros & Tennis Hos" but the more conservative choice prevailed.)
In the original martini category, we had five finalists: Bardenay, Red Feather, Pair, Piper Pub and Angell's. Of those five, four were in my top five, with the fifth placing sixth in my own point tally.
Finally, the new category this year was cocktails. While some bars went with the classic definition of cocktail (which basically is the definition of the original martini category), I was happy to see some bars dispense with the martini glass and bring in a few ice cubes. What I didn't see were any outrageous cocktails sporting paper umbrellas, flying monkeys or sparklers, so I was a little disappointed in the creativity department. The finalists for the cocktail category were Bardenay, Pair and Tablerock Brewpub. I must admit, although sweet and slightly cliche, Piper Pub's Blue Collar was a fun cocktail served in a hurricane glass. I must also give some kudos to the Bouquet, whose Ward 43 with Jameson, pomegranate juice, sweet vermouth and bitters was a refreshing take on a Manhattan (or more accurately a Rob Roy).
Winners will be announced at the final party on Saturday, June 6, at 404 S. Eighth St., Suite 170. It is in the Mercantile Building above Cafe Ole in BoDo. Doors open at 6 p.m. Music will be by the Ben Burdick Trio featuring Amy Weber. If you bought a martini coupon book, you already have a ticket. Otherwise tickets are $25 at the door, which includes one free drink. All coupon books are valid and can be used at any participating bar through Tuesday, June 30.