After a nationwide search among the best amateur and professional mixologists, Dante LoPresti of Double A at Mercadito Chicago (108 W. Kinzie) won the second annual Star of the Bar mixology competition at the 2011 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event’s Restaurants Rock party on Sunday, May 22. Hosted by Bravo’s Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, Restaurants Rock raised funds for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart high school program, which prepares 90,000 high school students nationwide for careers in the restaurant industry.
After impressing the esteemed judges including Chef Tom Colicchio, Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim and Bacardi Portfolio mixologist Brian Loukmas, LoPresti’s Pink Lion cocktail was selected as the winner of the Star of the Bar competition which awarded him $5,000 cash and the coveted title. The refreshing cocktail includes Cazadores blanco, St. Germain, Lillet Blanc, Hum liqueur (which is hibiscus, ginger, cardamom, Kaffir lime), simple syrup, lemon juice and was finished with a lemon peel.
"All the cocktails were really good, but we thought overall the flavor of the actual liquor came through nicely on the Pink Lion. It was well-balanced and his presentation overall was cleaner than the others," said Chef Tom Colicchio.
“I tend to be artistic in my approach to bartending, and I wanted to create something people enjoy at Double A,” says Dante LoPresti, lead mixologist of the intimate cocktail lounge located below Mercadito Chicago. “Attention to detail and the traditions of mixology are very important to me, and it’s great this competition celebrates that.”
Competitors originally submitted videos of themselves preparing an original signature cocktail utilizing at least one Bacardi® product (Bacardi is the sponsor of Star of the Bar). Six semi-finalists were selected by IWSB YouTube voters who based their votes on their favorite recipes and the mixologist’s shaking and stirring skills. The six semi-finalists were flown to Chicago to compete live at the International Wine, Spirits & Beer event on Sunday, May 22 where the three finalists were then selected.