Some summit!

It was a meeting of the minds and a sharpening of the palates when The Tasting Panel—a spirits and wine industry publication—assembled a team of expert cocktailians for a Speed Tasting, the results to appear in its October issue (

On hand for the summit, held in Marquee Nightclub’s Library Bar at the Cosmopolitan, was Downtown Cocktail Room GM Jeremy Merritt, Caesars Palace beverage director Eddie Perales, Wirtz Beverage Nevada’s Drew Levinson, Wynn Resorts property mixologist Patricia Richards, BarMagic of Las Vegas’ Tobin Ellis, Bond GM Kristen Schaefer, P.J. Clarke’s barman Woody Linihan, Tao Group beverage director Eddie Allen, The Tasting Panel publisher Meridith May and myself.

Liquor reps and ambassadors pulled out all the stops to make sure their brands stood out before the panel, which gave honest feedback and will hopefully spread the word. In all, 14 brands were invited to participate, including Ole Smoky moonshine, Solerno liqueur, Purity vodka, Bols genever, Chopin rye vodka, Pisco Portón, Bombay Sapphire East gin, Corzo tequila, Beluga vodka, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year scotch and DiSaronno amaretto.

Although it wasn’t a competition, the pressure was still on. But beverage consultant and Wet Republic bartender Daniel “Double D” de Anda Fast had the crowd all aglow thanks to his sweet-hot Corzo Melon Fresco featuring Corzo tequila.

“Tequila is on the cutting edge,” Fast says. “This is what’s next. Playing with the spice and a little bit of the acidity, [the Corzo Melon Fresco] doesn’t take people too far out of their comfort zone.”

Corzo Melon Fresco:

Muddle 2 cubes ripe honeydew melon in a mixing glass with ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, 5 cilantro leaves and 1½ ounces Monin habanero lime syrup. Add 2 ounces Corzo silver tequila and ice, then shake thoroughly and double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and top with freshly cracked black pepper.