About Last Night: Oh, Bartender…

So last night was out first-ever Open Stove cocktail night–in which we took the Open Stove formula of public competition, secret ingredients, surprise twists and loud smack-talking and applied it to the craft of drink slinging. By the time the night was done, two of the city’s best barmen had gone toe-to-toe in COOK‘s culinary Thunderdome, everyone in the joint was swimming in high-test happy juice, and a victor had been chosen.

Here’s how it all shook out–in pictures, courtesy of COOK’s #1 shooter, Yoni Nimrod.

Our two valiant competitors: Al Sotack from Franklin Mortgage on the left and George Costa from Pub & Kitchen on the right.

The challenge last night was for these two champion barmen to pair their cocktails with food. The trick? They didn’t know what the food was going to be until the minute it was brought out from the kitchen. The first course to hit the table was arrancini with truffled cheese–not exactly something you can pair with a Cosmo. But it was an intellectual exercise, and George was the first to come up with a solution. His involved serving…

The blood of a dozen pheasants!

No, actually this was just his very cool shaker. There’s nothing but booze in there–lots and lots of it being gin.

We also tried to trip the fellas up by giving themsecret ingredients which had to be highlighted in their cocktails. The first one? Lemongrass. The bartenders shared the pain and worked together (like Voltron!) to turn it into a lemongrass simple syrup.

George Costa, doing what he does best–pouring drinks for pretty girls.

And Al ain’t no slouch either.

Second secret ingredient? We told them it was a sack full of kittens.

In reality, it was a sack full of Colt 45. Why? Because it works every time…

The gentlemen were pairing their Colt 45-based cocktails with steak, mushroom stuffing, Stilton cheese and asparagus. You wanna know what I usually pair with a plate like that?

A nap.

This is my favorite photo of the night. A champagne cocktail topped with Colt 45 instead of bubbly. Classy as hell. Al matched this one with a buck shandy laced with Colt 45–which, in the parlance of the Franklin, is called a Blue Collar. And that’s just awesome.

When the votes were finally cast, we ended up with our closest ever result. Just two votes separated the victor from the vanquished, but in the end, Al Sotack won the night and the hearts of the crowd.

Stay tuned for the grudge match. Because this night was so much fun, if it doesn’t happen at COOK (and soon), I’m just going to have them come to my house and fight it out in my living room.

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