The tequila cocktail contest held last Sunday at The Varnish was organized by Raul Yrastorza, manager of 213's forthcoming venture, Las Perlas. “There's a brotherhood of bartenders downtown right now that's really exciting,” said Yrastorza. “This event is a testing ground for one of my driving inspirations for Las Perlas. I've asked all the bartenders if when we open, each week, someone would contribute an original tequila recipe. At the end of the year, I'm going to bind them all into a book that everyone from L.A. to San Francisco to New York can share.”
But a cocktail competition on Sunday? Has no one read the Bible where it specifically states, “On the seventh day God finished the work He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work he had done.” I guess not, as it seemed to have been interpreted by downtown L.A. Bartenders as, “After six days of serving the screaming masses cocktails, the seventh is reserved for creating tequila drinks in the name of brotherhood. And the chance to win five hundred bucks.”
The contestant's libations were judged on presentation, taste, originality and balance. Some ingredients used: Curry, fried bananas, apricots, Valrhona chocolate, (ID'd as such immediately by Ms. Hallock) rosemary, Aperol infused with black tea, raspberries with violet nestled inside, corner-bodega chili mango lollipops, eggs, and window-box, home-grown basil.
The convivial feeling throughout the room felt indeed like a brotherhood — it seemed like it didn't so much matter who won, as long as they bought drinks afterward. As it turned out, the 3rd Place Winner was Julian Wayser from The Dohney, 2nd Place was Francois Vera from Cole's Red Car Bar and 1st went to Julian Cox from Rivera. Click through the night's photos for a taste.