San Diego Bartenders Competing in National Competition

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San Diego bartenders are bringing it hard to the 2011 Ultimate Mix-Off Challenge presented by DonQ Rum and the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG).  Winning the regional competition in San Diego are two very talented men, Christian Siglin, bartender at Craft & Commerce in Little Italy, and Adam Stemmler, mixologist at Vin De Syrah in the Gaslamp.  They passed the first round of the Ultimate Mix-Off Challenge and are being sent to compete in the national competition, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York City on May 14th.

In an effort to understand the true craft of mixology—the creativity, thought and technique that go into these inventive libations—I paid a visit to regional winner and expert bartender, Christian Siglin.

At his post at the Prohibition Era Themed Craft and Commerce, I was able to interview the San Diego native and seven-year bartending veteran.  He discusses the “Rum Blazer,” his winning cocktail for the Fancy Spirited Cocktails Category, and his interest in the craft of mixology.  His cocktail was judged primarily on creativity, technique, seasonality and visual appearance.

The “Rum Blazer” is a booze-forward, full-flavored, spiced hot cocktail with a complex flavor.  Your mouth is immediately saturated in a flavor that can only be described as tingly dew drops from autumn.

SDEntertainer: What inspired you to create the “Rum Blazer”?

Christian: It’s an old-fashioned drink from San Francisco in the 1850’s that originally uses scotch. Because it’s a hot drink, bartenders would only serve it on cold or rainy nights.  I made the change to feature rum and incorporated a fire/heating technique I picked up while traveling in Australia.

SDEntertainer: You use a lighter to create a really spectacular visual appeal while making the drink.  Does the heat contribute to the “Rum Blazer’s” unique flavor?

Christian: Fire caramelizes all of the flavors together.  An over-proofed Jamaican rum catches on fire and allows the amaretto (almond liquor) to mix with the all spice, and is garnished with an orange peel and cinnamon stick while lit.

SDEntertainer: How will you best represent San Diego at the national competition in New York?

Christian: “LA, San Francisco and New York are always represented as the best places for a quality drink.  It’s time people recognized the talent in San Diego. I’m going to do the best I can.”

Christian displayed an exemplary level of showmanship and very knowledgeable approach to the true craft behind bartending. Thanks to Christian, I’ll never order a plain-old vodka tonic ever again.

Support your local bartenders by visiting them at Craft and Commerce and Vin de Syrah for a truly spectacular drink experience.

Photos by Leslie Kehrer.

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