The Nightclub & Bar Show’s Trends and Competitions

rodger2.jpgAnother year, another Nightclub & Bar Show hangover. Good thing my nightstand is a veritable apothecary of flavored potions purporting to banish the bane of the cocktailian. As I mentioned last week, ResqWater is my latest go-to. But the SoberUp, Faveo, PreFunc and AfterParty are lined up for my next big night. It won’t be long.

Topping my list of items to follow up on is Oxygen 4 Energy ($10 each), makers of a small canister of 95 percent oxygen you can nip off to help with hangovers, jet lag and altitude sickness.

I was not at all surprised to see how many cinnamon-flavored whiskey liqueurs showed up to try to steal some of Fireball’s après-ski thunder. Look, I don’t mind if you ladies (and gents) want your whiskey to taste like Red Hots. I do, however, choke on the fact that some of these brands don’t clearly state on the label that they are not spirits, but (heavily) sweetened whiskey liqueurs. Sneaky …

On Day 3 of the convention, I took to the main stage to judge the United States Bartenders’ Guild Don Julio Bartender Challenge. Five Las Vegas bartenders prepared their takes on either the margarita, El Diablo, paloma or the sangrita. In the end, it was Rodger Gillespie of Vesper in the Cosmopolitan who prevailed with his Valley of Fire, an unbelievably delicious blend of Don Julio reposado, lemongrass syrup, Aperol, lemon juice, egg white, orange bitters and ghost chili tincture (just a touch!), served on the rocks beneath a dusting of smoked paprika. I could use one of these every day around 4 p.m.

Not only did the day belong to Gillespie, but the night as well. The barman came in first place later on at the inaugural Las Vegas Cocktail Classic at Surrender, winning us over this time with his Dobel Down cocktail of Maestro Dobel tequila, Art in Age Sage, Cynar, sage syrup, grapefruit bitters, fresh lemon, egg white and thyme. Well done!

Timed well for the convention, the Public House beer vs. booze showdown was a tasteful addition, pairing five courses of gastropub fare with cocktails by San Diego mixologist Jeff Josenhan and beers selected by Public House cicerone Russell Gardner. While I loved Josenhan’s aromatic Venetian Arrangement cocktail, Gardner clearly had the home-turf advantage. Winner: Beer.

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