I spotted and sampled several interesting products and cocktail at the BAR—as in Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants—event during the National Restaurant Association convention last month in Chicago. The program, which was previously known as the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, is bigger and now better linked up with the NRA exhibits.
There were so many niche and craft spirits, from mulled wine from Bavaria Waldfrucht, lavender wine from St, Kathryn in Palisade, CO, and agave wine from El Guitarron. There was also mead—I tried Nectar of the Hops from Redstone Meadery—sake, Micheladas and amari, plus more mainstream spirits, beer and wine.
Or maybe it was William Wolf’s crazy good pairing with miniature Elvis cupcakes—banana cake with a chocolate ganache center, peanut butter and buttercream frosting sprinkled with bacon-pecan praline.
As for cocktails, there were Watermelon Coolers (shown at top), with Chopin wheat vodka, fresh watermelon and cucumber juice, and a Tiki tipple called Pluto’s Paradise (Angostura 7 yr. rum, Angostura bitters, passion fruit lemon, falernum and orgeat) from Chicago hot spot Three Dots and a Dash.
Speaking of the House of Angostura, the bitters and rum brand’s booth was offering a great drink called The Pink Ginger Collins, made with gin, dry vermouth, Angostura bitters, fresh lime juice, ginger-raspberry syrup and soda water.
BAR attendees also got to try and vote on the Casamigos tequila cocktails from the six finalists in the 2015 Star of the Bar competition. The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim was also demonstrating how to make the perfect Margarita using Casamigos. Here’s his recipe.
The Perfect Margarita
1 ½ oz. Blanco tequila
¾ oz. Lime juice
1 ½ oz. Lemon simple syrup
¾ oz. Cointreau
Add ingredients to shaker and shake. Strain into cocktail glass or over glass of fresh ice.