The USBG in Partnership with Marie Brizard challenged bartenders across the United States to tell us their tales! Competitors submitted artfully crafted stories and cocktails inspired by iconic and powerful women.
The top five US Finalists moved on to showcase their inspired cocktail at this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. As they competed for the opportunity to further their education in Bordeaux, France and the chance to represent the USBG in the Global Marie Brizard Master Challenge in November.
It is our pleasure to introduce you to the competitor moving forward…
R. Alexander Bell
Kudos goes out to R. Alexander Bell who took the top spot in the Toast to Herstory Challenge sponsored by Marie Brizard! Alexander won with his cocktail, "A Well Behaved Punch" and his inspirational story celebrating Maria Polise, who taught him how to be a bartender. Alexander has earned an opportunity to further his Marie Brizard education and to compete in the Global Competition in Bordeaux, France later this year.
Also, Congratulations to Bryan Tamayo who was named Fan Favorite!
We invited the champion to tell us about his experience as he preps for Globals.
Who was the Iconic Woman that inspired your cocktail?
Maria Polise is the woman who taught me my craft and inspired my cocktail. While well-known in Philly as the current bar manager of Southwark, I don't think she would agree to being called iconic, which was sort of the point of my entry. She does her job and she does it extremely well. She's taught me and many others to bartend, but competence and even mastery don't always correlate to recognition or fame. As the quote goes, "Well-behaved women seldom make history." It may seem cheeky, but that's why I made "A Well-Behaved Punch" in her honor.
How has your experience with Marie Brizard helped you grow as competitor and Bartender?
This competition is the first that I've had to travel any significant distance for, and size of a carry-on bag along with TSA regulations put very real constraints on tools and materials I could bring. I brought an ice mold for large-format ice usually associated with punches but couldn't find access to a freezer to use it, and I couldn't bring a knife or pick I would normally use to knock it to size and shape anyway. Not stressing those tiny details and just focusing on putting the best drink you can manage into people's hands becomes a pivotal skill. Just because it's not absolutely perfect doesn't mean you can't be completely confident in it.
What advice would you give to a future Marie Brizard Competitor?
Be genuine. Every person there felt an earnest connection or inspiration from the life of the woman whose story they were sharing, and it was communicated in their drink.
What was the best part of your experience?
Hands down my favorite part of the whole competition experience was meeting and hanging out with the other competitors. I know we were all vying for the same prize, but like a lot of competitions our interaction was anything but adversarial. I enjoyed tiki drinks and a poboy and poorly-played pool with Bryan, and had drinks and a muffaletta and swapped stories with Ed, and Marie Brizard hosted all of us for a happy hour where we all hung out. It's such a collaborative industry with this universal feeling of fraternity, we're all bartenders, we're all in this together.
What did you enjoy most about your experience at Tales of the Cocktail?
This is going to sound very similar to a previous response, but the people. In no other industry is a convention going to have so many professionals giving such honest personal representations of themselves. It's just such a great group of people sharing knowledge and stories of their craft and their passion.
Check out the Award Winning Cocktail Recipe:
"A Well Behaved Punch"
1oz Marie Brizard Peach Liqueur
.5oz Marie Brizard Yuzu Liqueur
.75oz Gautier VS Cognac
.5oz Smith & Cross Run
.1oz Lemon Juice Garnish : Grated Nutmeg
INSTRUCTIONS: Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker, shake and double strain.