Yesterday afternoon, the rooftop patio at Linger was the sight of the third annual Sangrita competition. Seven local bartenders flexed their culinary muscles to create a unique sangrita to pair with their favorite expression and vintage of Tequila Ocho. The competition was created by Tequila Ocho and The Bon Vivants to challenge bartenders across the US to create shake up the Sangrita variations.
The contenders were Blanca Moreno of La Loma, Stuart Jensen of Mercantile Dining & Provision, Les Baker of Session Kitchen, McLain Hedges of the Proper Pour, Adam Douglas of the Arvada Tavern, Brian Smith of the Squeaky Bean, and Ryan Lumpia of Casselman's and the Squeaky Bean.
The seven variations ranged from an Asian-inspired dashi to creations that included ingredients ranging from beets to pomegranates. They were judged on flavor, creativity, how well it pairs with their chosen expression of Ocho by Josh Harris, founder of the Bon Vivants, Andra Zeppelin, Eater Denver editor, Max MacKissock, formerly of the Squeaky Bean, and Mike Henderson of Linger and RootDown.
The winning sangrita was created by Mclain Hedges of the Proper Pour and named Pitalo Espina. Hedges combined radishes, pomegranate juice and molasses, honey and brown sugar, white grape juice, Tasmanian peppers, Serrano juice, vanilla, hibiscus cardamom, lime juice, and salt.
As the winner of the Colorado competition, Hedges will head to New Orleans to Tales of the Cocktail to face against other regional winners from across the country. The national champion will win a trip to Arrandas, Jalisco, Mexico for a week to party with Tequila Ocho, tour a few distilleries, and spend a day at La Altena where Ocho was created and still made.