Miami Valley Restaurant Association names 2023 Buckeye Vodka Battle Champion Bartender at sold-out event. Read on to see who WON…
Three long years after the 2020 contest, the Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders sold out well in advance and welcomed an enthusiastic crowd to the March 8 mid-week event. Returning contestants included Carvers Steaks & Chops, El Meson, Meadowlark, and Wheat Penny Oven and Bar. New this year were: Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers, Rip Rap Roadhouse, Smith’s Boathouse, The Last Queen, Loose Ends Brewery, and Watermark.
This is my favorite event to judge because I enjoy hearing and seeing the teams present their cocktails and complimentary food dishes with pride and in great detail. It can be difficult to hear over the thunderous crowd, though I don’t think they mind the retelling too much. Some teams infuse their vodka to produce one-of-a-kind flavors in addition to creating their own syrups, shrubs, and mixes to produce unique flavor combinations. And the garnishes.
This years’ Best Pairing award went to Louis Connelly and Chef Dave Rawson at Meadowlark for “Shaved Ice” featuring a house made orgeat syrup and tinge of Absinthe paired with a Lamb Slider on a house made roll.
The People’s Choice award went to Nicole Wilson of Smith’s Boathouse Restaurant for “Down the Rabbit Hole”. Nicole infused Buckeye Vodka with Cilantro, added an organic carrot juice blend, elderflower and fennel liqueurs, organic passionfruit puree and chili spice, garnished with a dramatic Black Lace Tweedle.
Rachel Swartz of Rip Rap Roadhouse earned Third Place for her “Roller Coaster of Love”, a frothy blend of strawberries, coconut.
Ashley Hake of Carvers Steaks and Chops took Second Place with “Hibiscus Splash”. It included Hibiscus syrup, lemon and lime juice, mango puree and a splash of ginger beer.
The 2023 Champion is: Thomas Morris of Wheat Penny Oven and Bar for “Stop and Smell the Roses”. Thomas created a Buckeye Vodka concoction that included rose hips black tea, cardamom, a sea salt foam on top, and garnished with the tastiest shortbread cookie I’ve ever enjoyed.
Thank you to Buckeye Vodka, the participating restaurants, their teams, and MVRA Director Amy Zahora and her legion of volunteers for creating this incredible event.
Previous Champions Include:
2020 Andres - Winds Café “Gold Blooded”
2019 Caroline Porter Meadowlark “Dutchess of Earl”
2018 Brock - Wheat Penny ” Merchant’s Wife”
2017 Bill Castro - El Meson “Tamiami Miami”
2016 Nikolaus Hunt - Coco’s Bistro “Coco’s Ruby Slipper”
2015 Amber Brady - Lily’s Bistro “Rosemary’s Babee”
2014 Dustin Wade - Meadowlark “The Root of All Evil”