Last summer, Denver's Sean Kenyon was named Bartender of the Year by Domaine de Canton after he bested a handful of his peers from across the country in the final competition in St. Maarten -- and he took home a $10,000 check for his work, too.
This year, Noah Heaney will try to do Colorado proud by following in Kenyon's footsteps: The Bitter Bar-based tender won the semi-finals at TAG Wednesday night, scoring a round-trip ticket to the Caribbean for the contest that takes place the first week of June.
Heaney's cocktail, which he named "Fishin' with Ginger," included verjus, an extremely acidic, unfermented grape juice most often used in cooking. He blended that with rum, ramazotti amaro, bitter-sweet aperol, whiskey barrel bitters and, of course, Domaine de Canton, the ginger liqueur on which the whole contest is based. It made a strong drink that was smooth and balanced, and the combination was enough to land him the win.
Judging by Kenyon's showing in the contest last year, that's exactly the kind of creativity that Heaney will need to take home the crown. Tasked with crafting a cocktail that used no spirit besides Canton, Kenyon gamed the system by getting approval to use bitters -- and then he promptly poured an ounce of angostura into his cocktail, which also included orgeat (almond syrup), a whole egg and nutmeg, and was garnished with a slice of orange.
After his win last night, Heaney seems well-equipped to succeed Kenyon, now the barman at Squeaky Bean and our Ask the Bartender author.
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Here's Heaney's winning recipe:
1 oz. Domaine de Canton 1 oz. Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum 1/4 oz. Ramazzotti 1/4 oz, Verjus Blanc 1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters 1 drop Birch Extract
Stir for 30 seconds with ice and serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a flamed orange peel pierced through the center with a sliver of ginger.