As part of this year’s Portland Cocktail Week, Bacardi sponsored a bar challenge. There were four teams, “Where’s the Orgy At,” “Bar Belle,” “Passenger” and “Ramble House” and they had to build a bar in one day. Everything from concept to drinks were conceived by the teams.
With the cheekily named “Where’s the Orgy At,” the team which consisted of several members including LA’s Jen Len from Cana Rum Bar served Struggle Cuddle punch (Bacardi 1909, Bacardi 8, Martini & Rosso vermouth, BG Reynold’s orgeat, all-spice, black, tea, lemon), Mustache Ride (Dewars 12, Benedictine, Stumptown cold-press coffee, Angostura bitters), and Money Shot & a “beer” (Bacardi Oakheart spiced rum and coconut cream; beer (carbonated hop-infused Noilly Prat dry vermouth).
Earlier in the day, I began seen #wherestheorgyat hashtag and heard rumors about this fab party. The team had set up a twitter and instagram and took to social media to advertise their bar concept. When I arrived, I was greeted by Jake Bliven from Eugene, Oregon acting as security for his team’s bar. But this was sort of bar everyone was welcome. Jen was handing out the Struggle Cuddle punch and I watched Vesper’s Roger Gross from Las Vegas shaking everything he’s got on the stripper box. It was very fun. While I didn’t like the smoke machine, I gave them points for authenticity.
The Money Shot and Beer was my favorite 2-step combo. That hops infused vermouth was great.
At the French-themed Bar Belle, they were unapologetically serving up sexy. Drink menus were printed on CDs which served as handy coasters. There were plush furnishings to lounge around on as well as a giant Grey Goose ice sculpture. The team which included LA’s Luke Ford from Seven Grand were spinning out drinks rapidly.
I really liked the La Belle Highland which is white whiskey. Though there was citrus, I would say it’s closer to an old-fashioned style than sour. People really liked the the Les Fleur$ with its dollar symbol name. Like Where’s the Orgy At, they had a stripper. Or rather a classy burlesque dancer with some Moulin Rouge flair.
Menage a Poire – Grey Goose Poire, Cardamaro, lime, cloves, orange, bitters
Les Fleur$- hibiscus-infused Grey Goose, St. Germain, simple syrup, lemon
La Belle Highland – Dewars white, Martini & Rossi rosso vermouth, lemon, honey, Angostura bitters
Then over at Passenger, the travel-themed bar, we had Puerto Rico Punch (Bacardi heritage rum, Benedictine, St. Germain, lime, grapefruit oleo, burgundy tea), Eastern Smash (Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini Rossi sweet vermouth, ginger, orange) and Coastal Collins (Bombay Sapphire gin, lime, soda).
One of the cocktails was served in a hollowed-out apple. Fun though I’m not sure how that related to travel.
I hadn’t tried the Coastal Collins initially though I loved seeing San Francisco bartender Tiny de Lota from Tonga Room serving them. But I can’t really resist drinks with mint and I thank the Passenger team for heaping mint on me.
All the teams had to rent furniture, glassware, figure out booze cost and build out their bars. Initially it seemed like Ramble House would have it the easiest picking out the theme “neighborhood bar.” They could really decorate any way they felt like since they didn’t have such a set, pre-conceived theme like a nightclub/ lounge. I loved that they brought in a “outdoor” patio and even a fire pit.
LA’s Dustin Newsome from Seven Grand walked around with the Boilermakers and everyone was very friendly. It’s hard to pick a favorite since I had friends working at all the bars but I did feel really comfortable at Ramble. And apparently people agreed with me because this bar team won the competition. All the teams were a couple points away from each other though. It was a very tight race.
Mamie Taylor – Dewars, lime, demerara, ginger, seltzer
Ramble – Bacardi 8, Dewars 12, lemon, cinnamon
Boilermaker – Dewars 12, beer, high-five
Congratulations to all the teams! This was one of the best competitions I’ve seen. I saw photographers on cranes. I hope they make a documentary because I would love to watch the planning process and the build-out. Perhaps it can be screened at next year’s Portland Cocktail Week?
© The Minty 2013
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