Viva Sangrita LA Regional

Cari Hah (Neat Bar) and Jaymee Mandeville (Drago Centro)

A couple of months ago, bartenders were invited to compete in Tequila Ocho’s Viva Sangrita contest. Winners from the regional contests won a trip to New Orleans to compete at Tales of the Cocktail. The ultimate winner will win a trip to Mexico to tour Tequila Ocho. The seven finalists; Cari Hah (Neat Bar), Joe Brooke (Mixology 101), Edwin Cruz (Tlapazola Grill), Chris Bostick (The Varnish), Rich Andreoli (Areal), Matt Wallace (Harvard & Stone) and Danielle Griffin (Cosmopolitan Hotel/ pool bar – Las Vegas) competed at El Carmen a few weeks ago.

Joe Brooke (Mixology 101)

The first sangrita I tried was Cari’s. Some ingredients were kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce which gave the sangrita a lot of umami. I thought it went really well with the Tequila Ocho. Joe’s sangrita was more traditional. In fact, his was the only one that seemed like a classic sangrita despite having ingredients like dairy (note the Strauss Family Creamery bottle).

Danielle’s chewy sangrita

Danielle from Las Vegas created a complicated sangrita. The chewy sangrita featured the Tequila Ocho in the center of the caramel-apple-y “pop.” Each pop then got several sprinklings of ingredients and finished with a crystalized sweet shard that was torched. It was definitely a showy sangrita but I just can’t imagine chewing on this when I really want a (liquid) sangrita to ponder the world (or at least my fellow bar patrons).

Edwin Cruz (Tlapazola Grill)

At the next table, Edwin also had a show-stopper of a sangrita. It was a modernist take on sangrita that involved several baths and eventually it was gobbled from Chinese soup spoons.

Matt Wallace (Harvard & Stone)

A couple of bartenders came up with sangritas that featured foam including Matt from Harvard & Stone. I know several were torn between his sangrita and the ultimate winner.

Rich Andreoli (Areal)

Rich’s winning sangrita- Gimme That Ocho

I had carried my Tequila Ocho from Edwin’s table over to Rich and he said I had to try his sangrita with a different expression of Tequila Ocho. What is one to do? Finish her shot, of course. Immediately I could sense the earthy mushroom from the sangrita. Later I would find out it comes from Miracle Mile Bitters‘ Candy Cap bitters. Ah, I love those bitters. It provided just enough backbone for this sangrita and Rich was right, it went perfectly well with Tequila Ocho. Guest were asked to vote for their favorites but there were judges including Josh Harris from the Bon Vivants and Julian Cox (from practically every bar in the city).

Chris Bostick (The Varnish)

I had saved Chris’ sangrita for last as I was warned it was the spiciest. His was a two-part sangrita. You have a sip, take a nibble of his homemade pickled garlic and then have a little Tequila Ocho. He named it Mexican Calendar Girl. It was pretty amazing and very aromatic when he cooked it up with a teapot. The steam rolled along the bar like fog.

Josh announcing the winner- Rich with his Gimme That Ocho sangrita!

Then the big moment came and Josh announced Rich had won with his “Gimme That Ocho” sangrita. It was a bittersweet moment for him as last  year he ended up not being able to compete because his batch had spilled on the way to the competition. I am looking forward to seeing all the regional winners compete at Tales of the Cocktail this year.

In the meantime, Cari and Jaymee from Drago Centro will be popping up around town doing sangrita R&D. Each guest bartending event will feature handpicked traditional and non-traditional sangritas paired with their favorite tequilas.

I’ll see you at the first one at Neat Bar on Tuesday, May 22nd!

Tequila Ocho

Viva Sangrita

© The Minty 2012