Cocktails, from classic to creative

We, and when I say we I mean the team of Island Temptations Magazine, launched the Bartender Brawl three years ago, with the desire to promote excellence and creativity in bartending. Apparently, it was a good strategy, because craft-cocktails have been added to many bar menus, reaching beyond classic preparations to also included herbs and vegetables, besides fruit, juices, and bitters.

We have been writing and documenting those creative efforts, in Island Temptations Magazine, for the past 15 years.

The recent 3rd edition of the Bartenders’ Brawl unfolded at the Renaissance Ocean Suites beachfront, on Saturday night. It crowned two talented mixologists Yanis Garcia, with Mad Magdalena, as the Judges’ Champion and Nelson Molina with Tropical Shades of Grey, as the People’s Choice Champion.

The Mad Magdalena had a lot going for it, the judges admired the combination of salty, sweet and peppery, and praised the great balance it achieved. Apparently BALANCE is to craft cocktails what SYNERGY is to a marriage. The cocktail had a Tequila Corazon and Cointreau base, flavored with muddled cucumber, Jalapeno syrup, lime juice, grapefruit, served with a ring of sugar, Himalayan pink salt and chipotle.

Congratulations Pepia Est, for creating a great cocktail, we hope to see it show up on drink menus around the island, perhaps at Azia restaurant & Lounge where Yanis works. Yanis got in touch with me in July, and volunteered for the contest. Perhaps he had a hunch he’d win, if he applied. Finally he got hitched with Pepia East, resulting in a successful partnership.

Tropical Shades of Grey, was a complex drink with VSOP Cognac, butterscotch and passion fruit garnished beautifully with a candy surprise on top. Bartender Nelson Molina who works at the Renaissance Blue Bar, competed on behalf of Tropical Bottling, purveyors of Grey Goose. He landed the Peoples’ Choice trophy, voted by participants as the best for the night.

In total, the Bartenders’ Brawl 2017 showcased 7 competitors; the 8th purveyor/bartender team, Playa Trading bowed out last minute, they promised however to show up next year, and I am planning to hold them up to their promise.

Manrique Capriles Aruba, importers of Lolea sparkling wines, from Spain, received generous compliments from the professional panel of judges for coming up with a sophisticated, tasty, wine cooler, a perfect brunch or Sunday afternoon treat, called Lolea Sparkling Rose Cocktail. Stylish bartender Juan Camilo Gomez, on the team at the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, created an excellent libation, with fresh watermelon, a drink that deserves being featured on the local brunch scene from now on to eternity. Kudos to Cristine Hintz Assistant General Manager, Manrique Capriles, for being a good sport and throwing herself into the food & beverage arena fearlessly!

Arion Wine Company introduced the only female bartender, Carmen Hurtado, working at the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. She presented an elegant, martini style drink, made with organic wines and essences, carried by Arion Wine Company. Big on smiles, and colorful displays, Carmen’s stand at the brawl was very popular. The general manager of her resort, Edgar Roelofs, and his wife, bought tickets to the event, providing total support and encouragement.

Divino NV with Bartender José Mestanza, the manager of BLT at The Ritz Carlton, took great risks by mixing goat cheese into their craft cocktail; the concoction was well liked, flavored with watermelon!  Jose’s bar hand, Danovick v/d Linden, is an experienced craft-cocktail mixologist, and can be found at the Divi Bar at The Ritz Carlton.

The Aruba Trading Company was also in a risk taking mood with bartender Giovanny Tromp from the lobby bar of the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, a second time competitor, basing their delicious pistachio and toasted coconut cocktail on Hennessy cognac. The cocktail was gorgeous and yummy, practically dessert, served with a leafy spoon to scoop up the creamy top, which Giovanni  caramelized, a la minute, with a mini blow torch.  Nice touch.

La Cava contributed greatly to the success of the event, first and foremost with an elegant performer/bartender, Johan Luque, who works at Azia Restaurant & Lounge. The cocktail they presented was based on Ron Diplomatico, from Venezuela, “one of the best rums in the world, with a unique rum-making style that combines Hispanic, American and British distillation traditions.” Diplomatico is new to the island but is gathering recognition fast, as an excellent sipping and mixing rum.

The company also showcased celebrity bartender Cesar Diaz, from Venezuela, as a guest star at the event. Cesar also conducted a few seminars on the island while here and happily posed for photographs with  Maite Delgado former Miss Venezuela candidate, and TV star, whose husband Alfonso Mora is a former professional tennis champion, and the co-owner of La Cava.

Thank you to the professional panel of judges Tina Bislick, creative editor of Island Temptations magazine, professional event planner, Barbecue Grill Master and craft-cocktail whiz;  AJ Tromp, Owner Operator of Private Bartending Aruba, Ashley Tromp, an experienced bartender, who works at Private Bartending Aruba, and musician, connoisseur, marketing virtuoso Jairo Boekhoudt.

The event team of Renaissance set up a gorgeous arena at the edge of the water, with delicious food stations, and cool lounge music. The weather was perfect. What more do you need? Great cocktails, sand under toes, clear skies up above and beautiful people.

Share on:

October 16, 2017
Rona Coster