Last night, El Dorado hosted their first annual Bartender’s Challenge. The talent behind local favorites Starlite, Cowboy Star, Noble Experiment, El Dorado, Jayne’s Gastropub, Snake Oil Cocktail CO., URBN, and Prohibition competed in a good old fashioned mixology competition – Iron Chef Style.


Each round began with the announcement of a secret ingredient (to give you an idea, I think Round 1 was Saint Germain Liqueur) and after a flurry of zest of orange, ice cubes, simple syrup and I don’t know what else, each competitor displayed a beautiful cocktail that a panel of judges evaluated on taste and presentation.

We arrived at the very beginning of round two so we worked our way up to the bar and the masterpieces from round one were ready to be sampled. El Dorado had glasses full of thick black straws for their guests to stick in a drink, stop the end with your finger, and slurp from the other end. You know what I mean.



After sampling everything within my reach (Saint Germaine is sour!) I asked the young lady next to me what she was drinking and she said, “The best cocktail ever… a Moscow Mule” and she let me try it with a fresh black straw.

After three rounds of San Diego’s finest mixing and stirring, Anthony Schmidt from Noble Experiment was the big winner with “Wry Gin”. According to the official rules, Anthony not only won bragging rights, he won “the highly coveted Otis Buffalo trophy”. The recipe is below.


1 1/2 oz Hudson Manhattan Rye

1/2 oz Fernet Branca

3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)

3 lemon wedges

8-10 medium sized mint leaves

Add ingredients to a shaker can. Muddle and taste for balance between the sugar and extracted lemon juice. If necessary, add more citrus or simple for balance. Add ice to shaker can and shake hard for a brief moment, then strain into an ice-filled double rocks glass. Garnish with a large/healthy mint sprig. Serve with a wry grin

Tags: Urban Dish, El Dorado, Bartender’s Challenge