Rosé Champagne is one of the hottest wines on the market these days, and last Monday I had the privilege of attending the Think Pink gala at the Starlight Room. Sponsored by LVMH, the event combined a glitzy party, a tasting of the excellent rosé Champagnes in the LVMH portfolio (Moët et Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, and Ruinart) as well as, uniquely, a cocktail competition using rosé Champagne as the base ingredient. I was honored to judge the competition, alongside veteran bloggers Camper English and Marcia Gagliardi, as well as Nish Nadaraja from Yelp and Maria Hunt, a writer from San Diego.
I'd never seen quite so much SF bartending talent turn out for one competition. It was really the best of the best, competing for a $1000 prize. In front of the whole crowd, the likes of Rye's Greg Lindgren, Eastside West's Eric Johnson, Range's Thomas Waugh, Camber Lay from Frisson, Marco Dionysus from Tres Agaves, Todd Smith and John Santer from Bourbon and Branch, and Jackie Patterson from Le Colonial stirred, shook and mixed away.
They all brought their A-game, so tasting the Champagne-based concoctions was an incredible treat. The brilliant Camber showed once again that she has tremendous balls by using scotch whisky in a Champagne cocktail (not to mention a rim lined with smoked sea salt, sumac and dried cantaloupe). Marco made something incredibly elegant. Greg captured the essence of berries, while Waugh brought a panoply of interesting homemade syrups.
In the end, Todd Smith, the B&B head bartender walked off with the check for making a cocktail that maybe didn't show off Champagne the best, but absolutely kicked ass in terms of complexity and deliciousness. The triumph of the accomplished Smith was no surprise. Rather, most eye-opening was the second-place finisher, Jackie Patterson. She's new to the scene, and I'd never heard of her. But her cocktail was the opposite of Smith's--a model of grace and restraint and respect for the rosé Champagne. I think I'll be soon paying a visit to the bar at Le Colonial, as this Jackie is definitely one to watch.