Inspired by Margarita Wars

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Inspired by Margarita Wars


Jesse Babbitt of Surfside Taphouse mixing “The Florita” margarita

This past Saturday was Creative Loafing’s annual Margarita Wars, an event I find very inspiring.  At this event bartenders from around the bay area dream up their most creative margarita, and everyone attending gets to vote for the best.



Pineapple peppered rims offered by Jake Hiller of the Tampa Marriott Waterside.


Random attendees enjoying the flavors…

The 19 entries this year included cocktails for every palate, and tequila was probably the only thing all had in common.  Flavors varied from the traditional lime juice to ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, and coconut, fruits included watermelon, blueberries, and mango, and garnishes included  persimmons seeds, blueberry caviar and citrus foam.  Traditional salted rims gave way to  toasted coconut, habanero pineapple, and chipotle sugar.  Many of these cocktails were outstanding, and all were creative and worth trying.  As someone always looking to push the flavor boundaries in beer & hard ciders, it’s exciting to see what flavors mixologists are combining to create new taste sensations.  Cheers!




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Brewing Inspiration

CombininGlass_2g centuries-old brewing traditions with modern-day culinary creativity is what makes the craft beer industry so exciting to me.  Classic styles, combined with new flavors and techniques, make the possibilities truly endless.  Sometimes the results are just OK – a combination that sounds better than it tastes.  Other times, however, the results are spectacular.  Finding which is which is part of the fun.



Last September I attended Art with a Twist, a cocktail competition and fundraiser for the Morton Plant Mease Foundation.  The premise was captivating: top-tier mixologists from restaurants around the bay area were asked to pick a piece of art from the Chihuly Collection, a series of beautiful free-blown glass sculptures.  Each selected piece of art then became the inspiration for a new cocktail.  At the event, mixologists were set up near their inspirational artwork, served samples of their cocktail creations, and judged on several factors.


It was a lot of fun viewing the collection and sampling fancy cocktails as you made your way through each room.  As a brewer, however, it was even more candied_Flowersfun to see how these people translated the visual impact of the art into the taste experiences of their cocktails.  One mixologist served original takes on margaritas, letting each person choose from a variety of salts and sugars, each a different color & flavor representing the colors in the art, to add to the drink & decorate the rim.  Another brought custom hand-blown glasses, and made candied flowers to garnish each drink.

The tastes of the cocktails ranged from tart to sweet, and traditional to exotic.  Some were more interesting, others were more delicious.  Overall, it was very inspirational.