Despite the freezing temperature outside, a heated competition drew people to the first ever Mixology Face-off at Masa’s Bar and Grill patio at Sun Peaks Resort during the Winter Festival of Wine weekend.
Each representing a food establishment and local winery, four experienced bartenders battled each other in an Iron Chef-style cocktail making face-off. Their goal? To wow the audience and a panel of judges with a refreshing cocktail made with wine.
Damon Newport, representing the Globe Café and Tapas Bar and Summerhill Estate Winery, won the People’s Choice Award with his drink titled Angels and Demons. Newport showed off his flavour mixing skills by creating a deconstructed drink using raspberry coulis and fresh strawberries served in a martini glass lined with chocolate and pop rocks. Satisfying the crowd’s appetite for bartender showmanship, Newport even added some flare bartending into his show.
In contrast with Newport’s elaborate cocktail, Krista Gebhard’s Okanagan Sangria that won the judges’ approval was beautifully simple. Representing Masa’s Bar and Grill, Gebhard played up the apple and pear flavours in the wine with some 7Up and a bit of Merlot, served with ice.
The two other contenders were Kristy Koehler from Delta Grand Okanagan Resort in Kelowna and Joel Rivera from Delta Sun Peaks Resort. Partnered with Rollingdale Winery, Koehler mixed icewine, Pinot Noir, sparkling wine, lemon juice and hibiscus to create a cocktail called Raspberry Rollingdale. Using Hester Creek Estate Winery’s Pinot Blanc and icewine, Rivera created a fruity medley of sundried apricots, blood oranges and peach schnapps topped with citrus meringue.
Ballots were handed out to attendees who voted for their favourite bartender.
“My favourite was Joel and Hester Creek,” said Liz Praticante from Calgary who was attending the Winter Festival of Wine for the first time. “The meringue was awesome. Drinking it through the meringue was really delicious.”
“I think Damon was the best one,” said Beth Whiteoak. “I think the presentation and his personality also made it really exciting. I think the end drink was delicious. I love champagne. The popping candy rocks and the chocolate really worked.”
Opinions varied but in the end, the proof was in the mix.