HughE Dillon: 2012 Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival

Favorite Philly mixologists competed for best cocktail while guests sampled spirits at the Linc.

Last night, Philadelphia magazine hosted the 2012 Philadelphia Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival at Lincoln Financial Field. Guests enjoyed spirits from nearly 100 vendors, cuisine from local steakhouses and restaurants, and the annual Woodford Reserve Manhattan cocktail competition. This year’s competition included mixologists Damon Danko from the Capital Grille (second from left), Robert Caskey, Barclay Prime (center), Bess Gulliver, Hotel Monaco, Marc Yanga, Sofitel Philadelphia, Benjamin Hash, Marriott Hotels, and Nicole Kelly, London Grill (not pictured). Also in the photo, Carol Drumstas, Brown Forman, and Chris Chamberlain (third from left), Capital Wine & Spirits.

Below: Judges for the competition included Philly Mag staffers Arthur Etchells, Foobooz, Tim McManus, Birds 24/7, and food editor Jason Sheehan, and Matthew Schwenk, director of product selection for Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit stores.

Below: Greg Schmitt, food and beverage controller at Wolfgang Puck Catering, “Extreme Chef” Terry French, who won the Food Network title from the show in September, and Dave Kopoz, who created a barbecue pork dish with apple barbecue, hot sauce and red boat fish sauce.

Below: Christal Watson, key account manager, North American Spirits & Wine of PA, and former Philadelphia Eagle Mike Quick, in the Crown Royal Maple lounge.

Below: Nicole Kelly, London Grill, explains her drink, the Smoking Woodsman. Nicole told me the base taste in the Woodford Reserve is smoky, and she created a drink around that using Dolan Vermouth, Birch Grand Marnier, black walnut bitters, and smoked ice cubes.

Below: Amber Joi,, and Shaun Coakley, the Charmer-Sunbelt Group.

Below: Gary Dorshimer, Eagles team internist, and Howard Eskin, sports anchor at Fox 29.

Below: Ryann Niani, marketing and events manager at Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, offers an Atlantic salmon with pear-ginger chutney and a whiskey-cider glaze.

Below: Jason Long, Brugal key account manager, Alp Aktan, director of nightlife at Ican Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub, and Perry Angelozzi, DJ, Events Promotions, love the Whiskey Festival for the diverse offerings. They’d like to see the event extended to five hours because it’s so enjoyable.

Below: Nico Nath and Maja Johansson raved about the marshmallow Oddka vodka while waiting in line to ride the mechanical bull.

Below: Veronica Stith had never ridden a mechanical bull before, but as of 8:30 p.m. last night, she held the record for the longest ride at 1:18 minutes.

The Woodford Competition had two parts: one where the judges determined the best drink, and the other part where guests voted. Below: Artie Taylor and Amber Erikson are big whiskey fans, and they loved the the Smoking Woodsman cocktail from Nicole Kelly, of London Grill, so they dropped their wooden spoon “vote” in her bowl.

Below: The winner of the competition was Marc Yanga’s “The Jerry Thomas Experiment.” Not only did he win as judges’ favorite, but he was also the guests’ choice. Yanga tells me that Jerry Thomas wrote Bartender’s Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks in 1887, and was the inspiration for the cocktail that he first created for the Sofitel Philadelphia. You can get this drink on the menu at the Liberte bar in the Sofitel. Yanga now heads to the Woodford Reserve home mixologist contest in NYC in January 2013. The Whiskey Festival returns next year, and for all you single ladies, it’s a great place to meet a guy as the guests definitely ran heavy on the male population.