With technology being what it is, anyone with internet access can mix basic cocktails with correct proportions. If you can Google you can make a darn fine gin and tonic and we think that's a good thing! Technology has such a pervasive impact on our daily lives it's not surprising we see its influence in the hospitality business.
Our Beverage Director, Athena Freedlander and I have had lengthy conversations about the direction the beverage world has taken over the past decade. Both of us have been in the industry for over ten years and worked in hospitality across the country at places as far away as the Hawaiian Islands and as metropolitan as New York, NY. We both worked through the days of endless cosmos and mojitos and have seen many trends come, go and come back again. Ultimately, we believe much of the creativity and inspiration behind the recent craft cocktail movement is related to experienced industry professionals knowing that creating and executing a great cocktail is truly a craft and not something you can Google.
Just like in the world of food, innate understanding of flavor profiles, balance, and techniques comes with years of practice. Even with experience equal, there are always some individuals who "get it" a little better than others. If you've enjoyed one of Athena's cocktails then I don't need to tell you, she gets it.
With that, I'd like to congratulate our Beverage Director on edging out eight other contestants to win the Northern West Virginia Master of the Manhattan competition on Monday evening! The event, sponsored by Woodford Reserve, was a challenge to create the best Manhattan. This cocktail is classically, whiskey or bourbon, cherries, vermouth, and bitters. Each contestant crafted a version in their own style to be tasted and judged by a three person panel.
When I asked the judges what made Athena’s drink the winner over the other fine cocktails submitted by the area's talent, the panel cited creativity, thought and overall taste as the standout factors.
Athena's cocktail, the Lower East Side, has an inspired local flair and is made using West Virginia maple syrup. The cherries are also house-made, using spices from around the world. The Lower East Side is a melting pot of ingredients from near and far that work together to create a beautify balanced cocktail. For specific details, see Athena at the bar end enjoy one yourself!
I was lucky enough to taste The Lower East Side in advance, so I wasn't exactly surprised it was a winner (it's that fantastic). However, I don’t know if the same can be said for our humble artist. As you can see from the photo I snapped (top) as the winner was announced, Athena was genuinely caught off guard. Congratulations Athena! Sargasso is happy to see you recognized after many years of quietly doing what you do so well. We are lucky to have such a talented professional leading our beverage program.
Join Athena Wednesday nights starting March 16, 2016 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. for a new event we are calling The Buzz. Athena will guide you through a tasting of some of the fine wines, spirits, or beers we have access to at Sargasso. This is a designed to be a relaxed, come as you are environemnt. Loose the tie or keep it, whatever you feel! For more information about the first week’s event visit: http://www.sargassomorgantown.com/#!the-buzz/lylhb