After a nationwide search among the best amateur and professional mixologists, Dante LoPresti of Double A at Mercadito Chicago won the second annual Star of the Bar competition at the 2011 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event’s Restaurants Rock Industry Celebration on May 22.
Hosted by Bravo’s Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio, Restaurants Rock raised funds for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program, which prepares 90,000 high school students nationwide for careers in the restaurant industry.
After impressing the esteemed judges including Colicchio, Tony Abou-Ganim, author of Modern MIxologist, and Bacardi portfolio mixologist Brian Loukmas, LoPresti’s Pink Lion cocktail was selected as the winner of the Star of the Bar competition which awarded him $5,000 cash and the coveted title.
The refreshing cocktail made with Cazadores Blanco tequila, Hibiscus liqueur, Lillet Blanc and simple syrup is simply garnished and finished with an elegant lemon peel.
"All the cocktails were really good, but we thought overall the flavor of the actual liquor came through nicely on the Pink Lion. It was well-balanced and his presentation overall was cleaner than the others," says Colicchio.
“I tend to be artistic in my approach to bartending, and I wanted to create something people enjoy at Double A,” says LoPresti, lead mixologist of Mercadito Chicago, an intimate cocktail lounge. “Attention to detail and the traditions of mixology are very important to me, and it’s great this competition celebrates that.”
Competitors originally submitted videos of themselves preparing an original signature cocktail utilizing at least one Bacardi product (Bacardi is the sponsor of Star of the Bar).
YouTube voters selected six semi-finalists, basing their votes on their favorite recipes and the mixologist’s shaking and stirring skills. The six semi-finalists were flown to Chicago to compete live at the International Wine, Spirits & Beer event on Sunday, May 22 where the three finalists were then selected.