Max Solano of Las Vegas squeezes out the win at the First Annual Classic Cocktail Competition during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
After months of planning, 4 Orange Premium Vodka hosted the First Annual Classic Cocktail Competition on February 25 in Miami Beach, Florida, naming
Max Solano's "South Beach Sling" the nation's next great classic cocktail. Ten mixologists and bartenders from across the country prepared their original 4 Orange Vodka cocktail to be sampled and judged by an expert panel, but Solano trumped the competition, winning a $3,000 cash prize, a trophy, and the title of U.S. Champion 2011.
U.S. Champion 2011 Max Solano and his winning "South Beach Sling" cocktail.
4 Orange Vodka brought Florida's iconic grove stands to South Beach, setting the stage with authentic wooden orange crates, fresh oranges and orange trees that evoked the classic simplicity of vintage Florida and prompted Lee Schrager, creator and director of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, to tweet "great stage!" More than 1,000 tastings an hour were served, totaling to more than 3,500, giving guests a fresh-from-the-grove taste of the world's first and only vodka made from Florida oranges.
Esteemed emcee Francesco Lafranconi, National Director of Mixology and Spirits Educator for Southern Wine & Spirits of America, led the competition as an expert panel sampled the cocktails. Patricia Richards of Bar Chef Biz, Caterina Miltenberger of Glazers International, Naren Young of Locando Verde in New York City, Suzy Buckley of Ocean Drive magazine, and Christian Castren, of Imperial Brands, Inc., scored the cocktails based on the International Bartenders Association scoring rules and regulations: appearance, aroma, taste and overall impression.
Francesco Lafranconi; Chester Brandes, President and CEO, Imperial Brands, Inc.; Max Solano, 4 Orange Vodka U.S. Champion 2011; Timo Sutinen, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, Imperial Brands, Inc.; Candace Stanek, 4 Orange Vodka Grove Stand Girl
A fan of vintage cocktails, winner Max Solano used the basis of an old-school Sling for his modern cocktail creation, the "South Beach Sling." To bring out the characteristics of 4 Orange Vodka, Solano incorporated four different orange flavors. The recipe, which took five days to develop, uses sparkling wine for carbonation in place of club soda. Solano traveled to the competition from Las Vegas, Nevada, the mecca of the food and beverage industry, as the Mixologist and Beverage Director for two of world-renowned Chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurants, Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian Hotel and Table 10 at the Palazzo Hotel.
Victoria D'Amato-Moran, a San Francisco bartender and owner of cocktail consulting, development and design company Cen't Anni Cocktails and cocktail developer at Wexler's, placed second with the "Julius Temple." D'Amato-Moran combined 4 Orange Vodka with Dom Benedictine, amaretto and cream in her recipe, which is a spin on the vintage 1920s Orange Julius dessert made with oranges, vanilla and cream.
Taking third was Miami Beach local Paul Sevigny of The Florida Room in the Delano Hotel who has been setting the standard for Miami's cocktail scene for over ten years. Sevigny poured his "Purple Haze" in a mason jar for a rustic feel, adding ice crushed with a meat cleaver for an old-school touch. He finished the cocktail with a thyme garnish, sun-dried fig and a steel straw.
"South Beach Sling" by Max Solano
1.50 oz. 4 Orange Vodka
.75 oz. Bitter orange and herbal liqueur by Aperol
1.25 oz. Yuzu Luxe Sour by Perfect Puree of Napa Valley
3 Dashes Rhubarb bitters by Fee Brothers
2.50 oz. Brachetto d'Acqui sparkling dessert wine by Rosa Regale
Garnish: long orange twist, brandied cherry