New York Mixologist Crowned Star of the Bar at NRA

There’s a new Star of the Bar, and it’s New York bartender Kristo Tomingas. The resident mixologist at Mayahuel Mariposa took the grand prize with a mezcal cocktail recipe at the United States Bartenders’ Guild 2018 Star of the Bar Competition presented by the National Restaurant Association

The competition was open to all bartenders across the U.S. with the semifinals previously held earlier in the year in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Orlando and Chicago. Ten bartenders competed at the four live, semifinal competitions with one winner from each regional semifinal—plus two wildcard winners—advancing to the final at the 99th annual NRA Show in Chicago this past weekend.

Kristo Tomingas

Kristo Tomingas mixes up the Pine & Passion.

This year’s Star of the Bar finalists included Niall McCourt of The Mandarin Hide in St. Petersburg, FL; Derrick Li of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel; Adam Rains of Las Vegas’ Flock & Fowl; Morgan Zuch of Datz in Tampa, FL; and Luke Nevin-Gattle of Chicago’s Room 13 at the Old Chicago Inn.

Tomingas’ winning cocktail is the Pine & Passion. It combines Riazuleño Classico mezcal with passion fruit liqueur, chickpea liquid (aquafaba), fresh pineapple and lemon; Riazuleño is the house mezcal pour at Mayahuel Mariposa.

Star of the Bar judges

From left, Star of the Bar judges Augustino Perrone, Tony Abou-Ganim, Elayne Duff and Dale DeGroff.

The final round of Star of the Bar, emceed by Charles Joly, took place on May 20 as part of the NRA’s BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) program. The judging panel included master mixologists Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale DeGroff, Elayne Duff and Augustino Perrone. Judging criteria was based on appearance of drink, aroma of drink, creativity, taste of drink and overall impression.

Tomingas, who also owns the Butterfly Lounge in Tallin, Estonia, has now won 65 cocktail competitions, but Star of the Bar is his biggest win in the U.S. He drew inspiration from the classic sour cocktails for the Pine & Passion. “Pineapple is used to give the foam a special kick, and the smoky taste of mezcal creates a compelling flavor profile.” Here’s the full recipe for the cocktail.

Pina and Passion cocktailPine & Passion
2 oz. Riazuleño Clássico Mezcal 
1 oz. Lemon juice 
1 oz. Pineapple juice 
1 oz. Giffard fruit de la passion liqueur
¾ oz. Chickpea liquid (optional)

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into coup glass and finish with orange ether oil and orange peel and green leaves for garnish.

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