The National Restaurant Association announced that Geoffrey Zakarian will host the fifth annual Restaurants Rock event and 2015 Star of the Bar competition finals at the 2015 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show and BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants).
Following six regional competitions in cities across the country, the finalists will fly to Chicago in May to showcase their bartending skills at BAR, with the finals taking place at Restaurants Rock. The industry celebration will be held at The House of Blues Chicago on Sunday, May 17 from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
“Mr. Zakarian is respected just as much for his culinary insight as he is his talents as a chef,” says John C. Metz, convention chair for NRA Show 2015 and CEO, Executive Chef, and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern, Aqua Blue, and Sterling Spoon Culinary Management. “Restaurants Rock celebrates the accomplishment of the foodservice industry, and the individuals continuing to push the industry forward, so we can think of no greater host that Geoffrey Zakarian.”
For the featured programming of the Restaurants Rock event, this year’s Star of the Bar finalists competed in front of an esteemed panel of judges in Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York. Each of these cities’ top bartenders were challenged to create an innovative cocktail using sponsor spirit, Casamigos Tequila, for a shot at the finals and a chance to win $5,000.
The following bartenders were selected as semifinalists from their respective markets:
- Atlanta: Madison Burch of modern American restaurant Seven Lamps combined Casamigos Tequila Reposado with Fresno chili-infused SeppZweigert, lime zest, Orgeat, and chocolate bitters for a spicy cocktail with a depth of flavor she named “Once More with Feeling.”
- Chicago: Andrew Turner of Rockit Ranch Production’s Bottlefork created the “Elotéd,” a butter-washed Casamigos Tequila Reposado with lime juice, brown sugar, corn, allspice simple syrup, mole bitters, chili liqueur, roasted corn puree, egg white, chipotle chili powder, cayenne, pepper, and white hominy. In addition to the impressive ingredient list, Turner wowed the judges with his pre-cocktail treat of chicharrones and his whimsical Styrofoam cup presentation.
- San Diego: Stephen Tuttle of Kettner Exchange infused Casamigo Tequila Reposado with serrano pepper for his “Casa de Tiki,” which also featured mezcal, pineapple, lime juice, Orgeat, Falernum, Curacao, and black walnut for a complex cocktail with a pop of brightness and spice.
- San Francisco: Elmer Mejicanos of Italian eatery, Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, crafted a whimsical, food-centric cocktail named “Panadero” made with Casamigos Tequila Reposado, strawberry, Hot Infusion Siphon citrus tea, toasted bread, lemon juice, and walnut cordial, topped with mint foam.
- Las Vegas: Seong Ha Lee from members-only club Tokyo 365’s winning cocktail was called “Forbidden Amigo,” and combined Casamigos Tequila Reposado with refreshing flavors of sage and ginger, bright apple and lime juices, and sweet honey.
- New York: Meagan Montagano from Brooklyn seafood and cocktail spot Extra Fancy combined Casamigos Tequila Reposado with Banane duBresil, dry Curacao, lemon juice, and chocolate bitters garnished with grated chocolate and nasturtium flowers for her appropriately-named winning cocktail “Banana Danza.”