Embracing cognac as a cocktail base.
Sharing the joys of cognac while supporting the bartender community.
The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC)—the entity promoting, protecting and developing the Cognac Geographical Indication and culture—shared the results of the Cognac Connection Challenge bartender competition, co-sponsored by Speed Rack and VinePair, that received over 120 entries.
The Cognac Connection Challenge was created to support US bartenders during the pandemic and give them the opportunity to share their passion for mixing with cognac. Ten winning bartenders will receive a $1,000 cash stipend and virtual trip to Cognac, France.
Ten bartenders best showcased why cognac works well in cocktails and were selected as winners.
After a difficult task of narrowing the field from the many tantalizing recipes, the expert judge panel— Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix of Speed Rack, Cognac Educator Kellie Thorn (Beverage Director of Hugh Acheson Restaurants) and VinePair spirits writer Tim McKirdy—selected 20 semifinalist cocktails to re-create and blind taste.
Bartenders entered the challenge by submitting an original cognac-based cocktail recipe, sharing their inspiration for the cocktail and what they’d learned about the spirit through the process. Recipes were judged on originality, creativity, technique, taste and appearance. Entrants also earned points by attending a virtual educational seminar, watching Instagram Lives, and sharing their cocktails on social media.
“As a Cognac educator, it’s rewarding to see that so many bartenders around the country have embraced cognac as a cocktail base,” shared Kellie Thorn, who also led the bartender webinar. She continued, “It wasn’t easy selecting the final 10, but what a delicious process!”
These ten bartenders will each receive a $1,000 cash stipend and will embark on a virtual trip to Cognac, France.
- Meghann Allred, Left Bank Bar & Restaurant — York, PA;
- Mara Bethel (no bar affiliation) — Atlanta, GA;
- Lance Bowman, Maya Hospitality Group — Charlotte, NC;
- Jesse Cyr, Foreign National — Seattle, WA;
- Chelsea DeMark, Quill at the Jefferson Hotel — Washington, DC;
- Jena Ellenwood, Dear Irving — New York, NY;
- Anna Giordano, Longway Tavern — New Orleans, LA;
- Britt Ingalls, Silver Lyan — Washington, DC;
- Lauren Paylor, Silver Lyan — Washington, DC;
- Jessica Pomerantz, Black Rooster — West Columbia, SC.