Non-bar­tender comes up with win­ning mix

Wine bar man­ager ‘who gets be­hind bar some­times’ wows judges at Val­ley cock­tail con­test

Penticton Herald - - OKANAGAN - By STEVE MacNAULL

The Okana­gan’s top bar­tender isn’t a bar­tender at all. “Well, I’m the front-of-house 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) Smoke-Af­fected 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.

Spe­cial to The Okana­gan Week­end

Salt and Brick chef James Holmes, left, and man­ager Rowan Hen­der­son cel­e­brate Hen­der­son’s win at Thurs­day night’s Okana­gan Spir­its Craft Dis­tillery Mixoff.

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