When a tall bartender with a smartly-trimmed beard announced Sunday night that business at Liberty was at least as busy as a typical Friday, it was hardly by coincidence. For one, Sunday marked the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition, thus providing anyone who'd forgotten what a pleasure it is to wet one's whistle on industry night as good an alibi as they're ever going to get. Just as importantly, Liberty was hosting the first-ever Hot Cocktails/Regular Cocktails competition in American history, featuring scalding drinks from five of Seattle's most creative booze outposts (Barrio, Moshi Moshi, Tavern Law, La Bete and Mistral Kitchen).
Bob Dillon Brinson (r) with her Mistral mentor, Pugh.
The first round saw the five-bar field narrowed to three: Mistral Kitchen, Moshi Moshi and La Bete. While each bar got to make a drink of their own advance choosing in the first round, in the finals they had to come up with something on the fly. And in the end, it was Mistral Kitchen's Brinsonian which took top honors.
Check out a slideshow of all the action.
Mistral's on-site consultant was bartender Ashley Pugh, while its regular--who, on this night, was the bartender--was Rebecca Brinson. When she's not drinking at Mistral, Brinson works in development for Richard Hugo House. Following is the recipe for Mistral's Brinsonian:
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
scant 1/4 oz allspice dram
2 oz hot water
2-3 dashes peach bitters
1 1/2 oz Stagg bourbon
1/2 oz yellow chartreuse
Two large heatproof mugs of the same size
Small mug for serving
Put the lemon juice and allspice dram in the bottom of a small, sturdy serving mug (like a sake cup) and set aside. Rinse out the large mugs with hot water to warm them up. In one, pour the 2 oz of hot water and peach bitters. Pour the bourbon and chartreuse in the other. Light the bourbon mixture on fire with a long barbecue lighter and once the flames have caught, pour it slowly into the mug with the water and bitters. Pour the (blue flaming) mixture back and forth slowly three or four times, then extinguish by putting one much on top of the other to burn up available oxygen. Repeat that with other mug to make sure all flames are out, then pour mixture into small serving mug. Serve immediately.
And, as an added bonus, here is the equally delicious first-round cocktail, the Hokkaido:
3 oz hot chocolate (made from solid 66% chocolate with milk and cream)
1 oz Carpano Antica vermouth
Bring chocolate and Carpano Antica to a low boil while whisking.
3 oz hot matcha milk [2 oz milk, 1 oz cream, ¾ tablespoon matcha, ½ oz simple syrup]
1 oz Hibiki 12 Japanese whiskey
2 dashes peach bitters
Mind you, this is a layered drink that involves a service technique that you'll simply have to go to Mistral to find out for yourself. We don't just everything away around here, y'know!