The Gra'it Challenge
For creativity’s sake, Gra’it is the perfect base to bring a specific group of true artists of mixology to the stage. With one round down in Miami, NY, FL and two more rounds to go after Los Angeles in Chicago, IL and Austin, TX, the competition will come down to the final round of competitors, who will compete one last time on June 21st at Byblos in Miami.
We gathered at Bar Clacson last Tuesday to observe the world’s first grappa mixology competition. The Gra’it Challenge, a chance for ten bartenders in each challenge city to show what kind of concoction they can whip up with the first authentic Italian grappa distilled specifically for mixed drinks, Gra’it Grappa. This brought some of the most diverse bartenders and mixologists in Los Angeles together for a chance to become one of the 7 winners to enjoy an all-inclusive 10 day tour of Italy as guests of the Bonollo family.
We mingled and got to know one another. After all, Italians are some of the most accommodating hosts on the planet. Warm conversations accompanied by a delicious grappa punch set a delightful mood and got everyone’s excitement brewing.
These skillful genius' shook, stirred, and strained their way into our hearts as we watched in awe through the design of each cocktail.
Later as we arrived at the end of the competition, and it all came down to the judge’s decision. With the “Gra’it Code of Alchemy” in mind, they began to deliberate. The winners are, drumroll please…
Jeremy Williams with In the Shade of Pear Trees, Una Green with Sylvia, and Ryan Wainwright with Grappa Estate! Each of the winners was presents with a ring of ancient keys to symbolize the key to their next journey, the final competition.
Congratulations and good luck to to the winners, and to every other talented bartender and mixologist who entered this challenging competition.
In the Shade of Pear Trees, Jeremy Williams
“Growing up my grandparents had a pear tree in their backyard. I wanted to create a cocktail that I could imagine myself sitting under, smelling the flowers and sipping. The flavor profile of Gra'it allowed me to do just that. Every ingredient used is designed to help enhance all of the wonderful flavors and aromas you experience when you enjoy Gra'it,” says Jeremy. “Portioning every ingredient was very important to me. I wanted to get each measurement just right so nothing would overpower and keep the Grappa from standing out. The ingredients and the amounts of which are what helps the Grappa shine in this drink.”
In the Shade of Pear Trees consists of Gra'it Grappa, Pear Eau de Vie, lemon juice, Marigold syrup, muddled kumquats, and a float of Moscato D’Asti.
Ryan Wainwright with the Grappa Estate.
“Gra’it Grappa is made from 7 different grape varietals and the blending of all 7 leads to a balanced and bright grappa. I wanted to highlight the notes of citrus and flowers by creating my own blend of flavors to enhance, not mask, the flavors found within. I created a Bitter Lemon and Elderflower concentrate that I use in conjunction with a house made Lemon Bitters and fresh Lemon juice thus extracting the essence of lemon from the skin and the fruit in 3 ways. I did all of this to honor the farmers of Italy who are world renowned for their grapes and their citrus.”
Grappa Estate is made with Gra’it Grappa, Amaro Of, lemon juice, Bitter Lemon and Elderflower Tonic Concentrate, honey, and California lemon bitters.
Sylvia, by Una Green.
“I wanted to create a refreshing, balanced, and sunny cocktail that would be approachable to the palate. I wanted to honor the beauty of the grape, and incorporated it through my grilled grape cordial. I rounded it out with Sherry and brown sugar to give it a rich mouth feel. Combined with fresh lemon, a pinch of salt, and a dash of St. Germain to give it a light, floral lift. A little Ango to play off the earthiness of the grape char. The cocktail is bright and pretty. I named it Sylvia, after my Italian grandmother, who always would remind me that the 25% Italian in me is the best part of me, and to never forget that. (The other 75% is Irish. I'm a Boston girl). I love my heritage and where I've come from.”
Sylvia consists of Gra’it Grappa, lemon juice, grilled grape Drysack Oloroso Sherry Cordial, honey syrup, St. Germain, Angostura bitters, and sea salt.
Also a big thanks to Simone Bonomini, Luca Fabris, and Jenifer Vogt for inviting us to come along for the ride to marvel in the capability of theses inventive ladies and gentlemen.