Randall Layman of Vesta Dipping Grill wins Sailor Jerry's Rum cocktail competition

Last night, Sailor Jerry's rum hosted a different kind of cocktail contest. These events normally take place in quiet rooms of trendy restaurants, where participating bartenders explain each move and ingredient of their libation while intensely scrutinized for technique by a panel of judges.

Sailor Jerry's Rum isn't that kind of spirit, though. This was more like a party at Boulder's Shooters, a gritty bar that plays rock hits of the '80s and '90s, while patrons take shots and play pool under multi-hued Christmas lights as they await their turn on the mechanical bull. That mechanical bull was used in this competition, as a means to determine which bartender would take home a Blu-Ray DVD player. And all the bartenders and judges, including yours truly, took half-time shots.

A testament to the explosion of the Front Range bartending scene, the competitors and their drinks ran the gamut. First-time contest participant Brad Hogan of Shooters, for instance, incorporated watermelon, pineapple and Sriracha into a flashy cocktail perfect for happy hour in Miami. Long-time competition veteran Adam Hodak of Osteria Marco, on the other hand, riffed on a pre-Prohibition Swizzle, bringing in egg whites, Aperol, and orange-flower water for a delicate drink that looked like a creamsicle.

Randall Layman's winning cocktail was called the Hotel Street Tea, and he combined lemon, egg white, maple syrup, Black Balsam Bitters, Sailor Jerry's rum and Rye Whiskey infused with Earl Grey tea and orange peel for a textured sipper that might fit nicely in a smoky New Orleans lounge.

Incidentally, New Orleans is where he's headed, as a result of his win.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk