Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, January 31

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Event Mon Oct 12 2009

Crowning a Mix Master

On any given day, you never know what you'll find when you open up your inbox. Color me surprised, then, when I opened my e-mail to discover an invitation to represent Gapers Block as a judge in a semi-final for DeKuyper's Mix Master Bartender Contest.

Not one to say no to the difficult task of judging cocktails, I joined the judges panel, and on September 30th at Martini Park, we sent one lucky bartender on his way to the Chicago final.

Contestants had to create a shot or drink that had no more than three ingredients, one of which had to be a DeKuyper product. It had to be a drink that was fairly simple to prepare, so no mashing or muddling, and no energy drinks. We judged the entries on taste, appearance, creativity of name, simplicity, and originality.

Each bartender presented his drink and explained the process of creating his recipe. Four bartenders, four drinks. However, we judges had questions, and questions meant more drinks. Questions like, if an entry that was served to us as a cocktail is meant to be drunk as a shot, which way tastes better? (answer: shot) And if you decide to quickly light and extinguish the top of a drink to bring out a certain flavor, does that really make a difference, or is that just some mixologist being unnecessarily fancy? (answer: yes, it does make a difference; they get fancy for a reason)

martini_park_093009-106_print.jpgThe evening involved a lot of sipping. Debonair's Steven Heffron made us smile with his Mr. Kool, a shot inspired by Kool-Aid (DeKuyper Apple Pucker, grape vodka, and cranberry). Darryl "Fresh" Havrish of Wicker Park Tavern brought us summer in a glass with his Almond Breeze (DeKuyper Amaretto, vanilla vodka, and sour). The Wit's Jonny Abens intrigued us with his Pilgrim in a Black Forest (DeKuyper Kirschwasser, Plymouth Gin, sweet vermouth).

However, after some careful deliberation, our panel crowned Timothy Lacey of The Drawing Room the evening's winner. His drink, Walk of Shame, combined DeKuyper Hot Damn, Jim Beam Rye 1, and lemon juice. When adding the element of fire to the drink, the cinnamon flavor sparkled in your mouth; however, even without that touch, the drink was pretty damn good.

Lacey took home $500 and moves on to the finals to compete against Joshua Pearson of Sepia for the Chicago crown. This event takes place tomorrow night at Howl at the Moon (30 W. Hubbard) from 7-10 PM. The winner takes home $1000 and moves on to the national contest in New Orleans. Tomorrow's event is free and open to the public, so go, enjoy a couple of free cocktails, and cheer on your favorite bartender.

(Photo courtesy of Beam Global Spirits)

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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