New York Most Imaginative Bartender Competitions Crowns Samantha Casuga and Samuel Willy

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Last month in New York (6/20), Samantha Casuga (The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog) and Samuel Willy (Locanda Verde) were crowned the regional winners of the United States Bartender Guild’s 12th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin (MIB).

Samantha and Samuel beat out top bartenders from New York, showcasing the artistry that goes into making an imaginative cocktail. This summer, Samantha, Samuel, and 14 other top mixologists from across North America will head to England — home of Bombay Sapphire and its Laverstoke Distillery — to vie for the 2018 title.

In advance of the finale, all 16 finalists will head to New Orleans this July for Tales of a Cocktail. For the first time in the competition’s history, the finalists will undergo a challenge at the annual trade festival that will account for a portion of their overall score before heading to England in September.

Over the two days, ten of the New York region’s top bartenders stirred creativity and presented their most elaborate cocktails to the esteemed panel of judges. The second and final day of the competition invited New York locals to NoMad’s Innside where they sampled each competitor’s cocktails and learned tips and tricks to help expand their at-home mixology skills. As the evening winded down, Samantha’s “Neobiota” and Samuel’s “The Journey” cocktails was officially named as the evening’s Most Imaginative based on flavor, appearance, presentation and imagination.

Neobiota

Created by Samantha Casuga

2oz Bombay Sapphire infused with Angelica

3 muddled green grapes

1 dash Absinthe

0.75oz lemon

0.25oz maple syrup

0.5oz rhubarb syrup

0.25oz St Germain

Method: Short shake, strain. Serve over pebble ice in a Belgian tulip beer glass. Garnish with green grapes and fennel.

The Journey

Created by Samuel Willy

1.5oz Bombay Sapphire

0.75oz Lager Syrup

0.75oz lemon juice

0.25oz Rooibos infused Suze

0.5oz egg white

2 dashes absinthe

Rooibos infused Suze:

Infuse 6oz of Suze with 1oz of Rooibos tea for 30 min

Lager Syrup:

- reduce 12oz of Brooklyn lager to half with 1 rosemary sprig, 5 thyme sprigs and the zest of 1 lemon.

- add 6oz of hot water and 12oz of sugar

- remove the rosemary, thyme and lemon once the sugar is completely dissolved.

Samantha Casuga‘s winning cocktail Nebiota: The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog mixologist Samantha Casuga was named the New York Most Imaginative Bartender, sharing the crown with Samuel Willy (Locanda Verde)

Locanda Verde’s mixologist Samuel Willy was named the New York Most Imaginative Bartender, sharing the crown with Samantha Casuga (The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog)

Locanda Verde’s mixologist Samuel Willy was named the New York Most Imaginative Bartender, sharing the crown with Samantha Casuga (The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog)

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Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.

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