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News & Press: Industry News

Top Indy Chef Wins Top Cocktail

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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Neal Brown -- 2014 Mixology Winner Already well-known as one of the top chefs in the Midwest, Neal Brown added top mixologist to his toolkit by winning the Cocktail Contest at the 2014 Beer, Wine & Spirits Trade Show. Brown, owner of the cocktail-centric restaurant Libertine Liquor Bar, emerged the favorite among judges who sampled such creative concoctions as the “Pumpkin Pie Martini,” the “Big Red Cream Soda” and the “Old Mexican” — all stirred and shaken from 10 chefs and bartenders competing from cities throughout Indiana. Paul Monahan, national brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry Rum, ran the show. What makes a signature cocktail?  “Balanced ingredients, proper execution of recipe and articulated explanation of ingredients,” he said. The competing mixologists were ranked on creativity, practicality, integration, technique and overall score. This was the first time for Joe “Alex” Angelor to compete in a cocktail contest and entered “The Martini that is Big.” Angelor is an artist who also mixes drinks at a Fort Wayne Applebee’s restaurant. “What makes this drink stand out is that it’s made with love,” Angelor said. Monahan prattled off cocktail details at each mixologist station as the judges watched them prepare, shake, stir then pour their spirits in individual glasses for tasting. Michael Gray, from Platt 99 at the Alexander Hotel, was meticulous in preparing his “The Wayworn Road” cocktail. “This is going to be a boozy drink,” Monahan observed. Muncie’s Horizon Convention Center entry came from Caleb Churchill, a chef at the center. His cocktail, the aptly named “Churchill with One H” was among those drinks with intense taste and aroma. (Recipe: 2 ounces cinnamon basil simple syrup, 2 ounces Woodford Reserve Whiskey, ¼ ounce fresh lime juice, a splash of Sprite and Basil flower bud.) “It’s more than just mixing liquors together. It’s creating drinks,” Churchill said before the judging. Observing Churchill’s chef attire, Judge Monahan breezed: “I love to see chefs make drinks. I hate to see bartenders make food.” But in the end, a chef would reign supreme in mixology.  Brown is a veteran cook with more than 20 years in the hospitality/restaurant industry. In addition to the Libertine, recognized by Esquire Magazine as one of the 25 Best Bars in America in 2013, Brown also operates the popular restaurant Pizzology. His winning cocktail is the gin-based “Screw and Bolt,” which Brown admits isn’t a drink for everyone’s tastes. But it holds a special personal place for him. “This is the cocktail that defined the direction of the Libertine,” he said.

2014 Beer, Wine & Spirits Trade Show Mixology Top Cocktail Winner

Screw and Bolt Recipe

1 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed, 2 ounces Smalls gin ½ ounce (1:1) Simple Syrup 3 drops violet extract 5 drops Tonka extract 7 drops orange blossom water

Thanks to our 2014 judges

Paul Monahan, national brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry Rum Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star food and dining writer Heather Tallman, food blogger and owner of Evan West, Indianapolis Monthly magazine executive editor Stewart Baxter, Indiana Beverage Journal editor Julie Roberts, Nashville, Tenn., singer-entertainer Shelley Hendricks, director of business development for Moore Restoration    

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