MARRAKECH, Morocco – Las Vegas-based mixologist Mariena Mercer, Property Mixologist at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, claimed the crown of The Opihr World Adventure Cocktail Competition 2015, which took place in Marrakech, Morocco, with her “Classy Lassi” recipe.
Unlike a typical cocktail contest, this one unfolded in a dramatic way—and setting. Each contestant was challenged with creating an original cocktail using Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin, and given a budget of 300 dirham (roughly $30) and only two hours to barter for all of their ingredients—including drink ware—from the souks of Marrakech.
“Each bartender was incredibly talented and it was such a pleasure to watch and learn from each one of the competitors—we are all winners here,” said Mercer.
Mercer was one of eleven finalists from all over the globe, including the UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. Of the finalists, three hailed from the U.S., including Francois Morisson of Cherche Midi, New York; Bryan Gerrard, of Smack Shack, Minneapolis; and Steve Maduro of Spoonbar, California.
“The standard has been phenomenal and we are enormously proud of gathering such an esteemed group of talented bartenders from around the world who love Opihr Gin,” said Kate Harrison, Quintessential Brands International Brand Manager, Premium Gins. “Each has demonstrated the amazing quality and versatility of the spirit.”
Harrison was joined by several other adult beverage industry leaders on the judges panel including Raj Ravalia, Brand Specialist, Marblehead; Judith Garcia, Opihr Gin Brand Ambassador from Luis Caballero Spain; and Melita Kiely, senior staff writer at The Spirits Business Magazine.
Mercer wowed the judges with her “Classy Lassi” cocktail creation, which was inspired by the Indian lassi milkshake.
THE CLASSY LASSI
2 oz. Opihr Oriental London Dry Gin
2 oz. Fresh mango puree
1 oz. Fresh passion fruit puree
1/2 oz. Yogurt
1 oz. Fresh calamansi
1 oz “Marco Polo Syrup” of green cardamom, black peppercorns, ginger, and coriander seeds
8 Fingers (or leaves) of lemon verbena
Gently press lemon verbena in tin. Add ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass, leaving the pulp and creamy texture intact. Garnish with trinket of 3 pieces of candied ginger with bamboo threading, a “hand” of lemon verbena, a caramelized orange chip brushed with “Snake Oil” made from eucalyptus, white ginger, and vanilla aromas.