Kevin Chisam from Chianina Steak House's Kabul Sunset. Photos by Brian Addison.
As part of Renaissance Long Beach’s Day of Discovery, featuring the city’s best music, art, and food, the “Art of Mixology” cocktail competition brought an eclectic and raucous crowd to SIP. Competing for the title of “Best Bartender in Long Beach,” five well-dressed (and nervously trembling) mixologists from local bars and eateries attempted to impress a panel of three judges for the win.
We had the opportunity to schmooze with the judges, sip a few cocktails, and take some drool-worthy photos of the best creations. Below are three of our favorite contenders’ boozy recipes so you can get a taste of some of some of Long Beach’s most atuned alcoholic genius.
Jonathan Miller, born and raised in Long Beach, is currently working at BO Beau and also at James Republic. A strapping young gentleman dressed to impress, he concocted Isabella’s Secret [pictured right], a refreshing and citrusy summer cocktail with hints of orange, mint, and lemon. Below is the recipe:
- Fresh mint leaves
- Fresh squeezed Valencia orange juice
- Fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- Citrus syrup (3 parts lemon:1 part orange)
- Velvet falernum liqueur
- Orange blossom water
- Aztec chocolate bitters
- Tru Gin
- All stirred, poured into a copper mint julep cup and served over crushed ice.
Miller said the cocktail blends aspects of the most trending topics in mixology such as "craft, season, classicism, and organic ingredients with a delicious blend of farmers market products.”
Always a student, Miller started viewing bartending as a hobby instead of a job after he moved to Miami and worked alongside a few local, well-known bartenders. He has been bartending for nine years in cities such as Santa Cruz, Las Vegas, Hollywood, South Beach Miami and Long Beach, and uses his UCSC degree in psychology daily to further his bartending/mixology career by way of getting inside peoples' heads (his joke, not ours).
Rebecca Hinderer, now dubbed the “Best Bartender in Long Beach,” created Helen’s Hibiscus [pictured left], a gorgeous, violet concoction served in a highball glass.
The layers of gin and Creme de Violette made for a sophisticated jewel of a cocktail that we wanted to guzzle immediately. Hinderer’s sprightly air of confidence—particularly coming from a bartender from Legends, which is more known for Bud Light than it is craft cocktails—and intense focus on her task made her one of the more fascinating bartenders to watch.
Hinderer spoke nervously, yet eloquently, to the judges about the cocktail’s historical context, noting “the Roman influence came from my desire to appeal to women, hence the name Helen, which means 'the most beautiful woman.'”
Helen’s Hibiscus is a combination of gin, basil, blackberry, Creme de Violette and Hibiscus rose-based soda water (which she made herself), garnished with an edible hibiscus and blackberry.
Having spent six years working at Legends, Hinderer certainly knows her women and is constantly seeking out new recipes that are both innovative and female-centric but dude-friendly.
“I have found in the last ten years of bartending that most women do not order gin," Hinderer said. "I wanted to create a drink that would be palatable for women and not too sweet for men.”
Hinderer is not from Long Beach, but has spent the greater part of the last ten years in the city and considers it home. A professional woman who takes her job seriously, she did not expect to win the competition, but was “truly grateful for the opportunity to fundraise and compete alongside incredible mixologists.”
Kevin Chisam from Chianina Steak House created the Kabul Sunset, comprised of Tru Gin, Tru Grand Poppy Liqueur, Punt E Mes vermouth, dry Maraschino, lemon oil, and a sprig of thyme. Though Chisam loves to shake up a good drink, the Kabul Sunset is a stirred cocktail.
Chisam has been at Michaels on Naples Ristorante for a little over six years and bartending for four years. He started humbly as a busboy clearing tables and worked his way up to Bar Manager for the restaurant group's new steakhouse, Chianina.
“I love my job and the freedom it gives me to be creative and make new and exciting cocktails," Chisam said.
2-ounce pours of each cocktail were available for a $1 donation to the Children’s Miracle Network for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Guests also had the option of pairing their drink with a chamomile-beet curte, copper river salmon with creme fraiche-mustard slider for another $1 donation.
Megan Rodriguez from Long Beach CVB, Kurt Eichsteadt from the Grunion Gazette and Maury Morgan from Tru Gin were selected for their locality and "gin expertise." The winning bartender, Rebecca Hinderer, received an overnight stay at The Renaissance, breakfast for two, a Tru Gin winner’s prize pack, and her cocktail Helen’s Hibiscus will be featured on SIP’s seasonal menu for the summer.