Non-bartender comes up with winning mix
Wine bar manager ‘who gets behind bar sometimes’ wows judges at Valley cocktail contest
The Okanagan’s top bartender isn’t a bartender at all. “Well, I’m the front-ofhouse manager here at Salt and Brick who gets behind the bar sometimes,” said Rowan Henderson, who won the Judges Choice Award at the sixth annual Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff Thursday night in Kelowna.
“And that’s not very often because Salt and Brick is more of a wine bar,” he said, but added the Kelowna establishment does have a small cocktail bar.
Be that as it may, Henderson stirred up a killer cocktail called A Smokey Entailment, which not only impressed the judges at the mixoff, but also the 250 who attended the event at the Laurel Packing House.
“It’s my take on the classic manhattan,” said Henderson.
“I made my own orange bitters, my own sweet vermouth using The Hatch (Winery’s) SmokeAffected Cabernet Franc and my own finishing spray of Okanagan Spirits Aquavit and 2015 The Hatch Orange Wine to go with the rye whisky from Okanagan Spirits and some of Okanagan Spirits’s BRBN (bourbon-style whisky).”
Rules for the competition stipulated the cocktails had to be made using two ingredients from title sponsor Okanagan Spirits and at least one local wine, beer or cider.
The wines Henderson used are from The Hatch in West Kelowna.
Bartenders from throughout the Valley were invited to take part in the mixoff. So were chefs and restaurants. That way, there was lots of food and wine for the judges and crowd to enjoy.
Henderson’s A Smokey Entailment was ranked the best by the panel of official judges.
The judges didn’t just take into consideration the taste of the cocktail, but bartender technique, presentation, originality and drink name.
The 250 who attended also got their say and voted bartender Shane O’Dwyer from Globe Cafe & Tapas at Big White Ski Resort the winner of the People’s Choice Trophy for his Peaches and Dreams creation.
Henderson and O’Dwyer each won a giant bottle of their choice from Okanagan Spirits. Henderson picked the BRBN bourbon-style corn whisky.
Chefs Cam Taves and Jerry Hines from The Train Station Pub in Kelowna picked up the People’s Choice Best Bite award for their brioche French toast.
Salt and Brick chef James Holmes, left, and manager Rowan Henderson celebrate Henderson’s win at Thursday night’s Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery Mixoff.