Zuma’s SeongHa Lee Advances in Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition

SeongHa Lee

Las Vegas is brimming with world-class bartenders, so it’s only fitting that Bombay Sapphire Gin would once again hold the southwest regional heat of its Most Imaginative Bartender Competition in our city. Hosted by the United States Bartenders’ Guild, the 11th annual regional competition took place on May 24 at Rx Boiler Room as a crowd of cocktail aficionados and judges sampled cocktails from 12 of the region’s top talent from Las Vegas, Denver, Hawaii and Phoenix. The panel of judges selected the winner based on the cocktail’s appearance, aroma and imagination. Las Vegas barman SeongHa Lee, who claimed this honor in 2015, once again took the top prize.

Lee’s winning cocktail, Tea Time at Laverstoke Mill, featured five ingredients: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Peace blended tea, clarified lemon cordial, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Sapphire relaxing tincture—the presentation of which featured an ornamental glass tea cup, ornate serving tray and hourglass. Lee explained, “I chose an hourglass to represent that the time to enjoy tea time is limited, and the blue sand in it is the same color as [Bombay] Sapphire.”

Raised in South Korea, Lee honed his craft in Japan and has called Las Vegas home since 2014, when he came to town to open the erstwhile members-only Japanese-style cocktail bar 365 Tokyo. He later moved on to work at the Mandarin Oriental’s Mandarin Bar and is currently the lead bartender at Zuma in The Cosmopolitan. Regarding the competition, Lee says, “Since I took second place in the Nationals in 2015, this time I really want to win and make Las Vegas proud. In the finals I plan to make the same cocktail again, but upgrade the presentation and concept to more of a magical theme.”

In August, Lee and 11 other regional finalists from the U.S. and Canada will head to England, home of Bombay Sapphire and its Laverstoke Mill Distillery, to vie for the 2017 North American title.

Tea Time at Laverstoke Mill

1½ ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin

1 ounce Peace blended tea

½ ounce clarified lemon cordial

¼ ounces St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur

1 dash house-made Bombay Sapphire relaxing tincture (Bombay Sapphire Gin, gingko, valerian root, kava root, sage, cinnamon bark, licorice, lemon and passion flower)

For more information about the Most Imaginative Bartender competition, visit mostimaginativebartender.com.