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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Sip ’n’ sing
Bartenders compete to create
Grammy Awards Drink Contest
The winner's cocktail will be served at a Grammy Awards reception.
Award Ceremony: 5 to 7 p.m. today
"We wanted to create a little bit more excitement about the Grammys," said Roy Cordeiro, director of sales and marketing for the Outrigger Waikiki and Outrigger Reef hotels.
Besides gaining recognition for the participating bartenders and the establishments they work at, the contest will also help the Hawaii contingent of artists gain attention among industry peers on the mainland. The winning drink will also be poured at a special VIP party in Los Angeles next month, along with being showcased locally.
"We've got some people from the recording industry on the mainland who are going to participate," said Alan Yamamoto, president of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists and second vice president of the National Academy of Recording Arts of the Pacific Northwest Chapter. The drinks, he said, "will bring attention to the music for some people who might not listen to it."
The contest was a natural progression for the Outrigger Waikiki, Yamamoto said. "The hotel has hosted lifetime achievement nominees and the Hokus for the past few years. They came up with the idea that there was more that could be done."
WHILE MOST of the entries in the contest were of the "frou-frou" variety, each of the five participating bartenders took a slightly different approach. All the drinks except one are unique creations, and most use fresh fruit or fruit juice as a foundation.
Sandy Chong, a bartender for eight years at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, went with the Fuzzy Hawaiian, a mix of white rum, peach schnapps and mango served in a hollowed-out pineapple. She was inspired to by the Brothers Cazimero's "Smooth Sailing."
"It's a fun-loving song, and this is a fun drink," she said. "That's my favorite song on the CD ... I can totally relate.
"And you get that fuzzy feeling when you drink a Fuzzy Hawaiian!"
Chuck's Steakhouse bartender Bob Melton also focused on the emotions felt while listening to a song off the Grammy-nominated "Slack Key Guitar Vol. 2." Melton chose Brian Kessler's "Celtic Summer" as the inspiration for his signature drink, the Na Hua Lani.
"The song ... reminded me of sitting out in a park, playing football with your buddies and enjoying a great barbeque around the picnic table at the beach," he said. "It just seemed like there was a lot of fun in the song."
With Absolut Mandarin vodka, Amaretto, pineapple juice, coconut syrup and milk blended together before being added to a mix of Midori and mango and strawberry purees, the final product is an explosion of taste and color. Pretty to look at, it's also a pleasure to drink while overlooking the beach in Waikiki.
"The flavors themselves speak of summer, the essence of fun," Melton said. "And if you listen to the music, it just makes you want to go outside and have a blast."
NOT ALL entries in the drink contest focused on the emotions felt when tossing back the cocktails, however.
Jesse Greenleaf, a bartender for more than 15 years and now working at Duke's in the Outrigger Waikiki, took a more literal approach. His entry, Waterfall, draws inspiration from the song of the same name from "Amy & Willie LIVE," by Amy Gilliom and Willie K.
Using raw cane sugar to coat the rim of a glass and provide the "sand" at its bottom, Greenleaf used Stolichnaya vodka, Malibu rum, banana liqueur and lemon-lime soda to emulate flowing water.
"It's supposed to be as clear as possible until you add the Blue (Curacao) at the top, and that's what 'falls' down the side of the glass," he said. The sugar is used because "that's where all the waterfalls end up, running to the beaches."
Greenleaf admits that it was quite a challenge to participate in the Grammy-themed competition. "In all the contests that I've participated in before, I've never had to think of a background for a drink," he said.
"What I was trying to do was create a drink that would somehow emulate a waterfall."
TO FIND out who wins the contest and will have their tribute cocktail served next month in Los Angeles, head to Hula Grill in the Outrigger Waikiki tonight. A number of the Grammy nominees will be on hand, with musicians Chris Kamaka and William "Baba" Alimoot providing entertainment.
For the Outrigger's Cordeiro, the enthusiasm exhibited by all the participants is a good sign that the contest will return next year.
"That's our plans right now," he said. "We're looking at having it as an annual event ... all of (the bartenders) really put a lot of work into it."
Note: "Float" is a bartenders' term meaning to pour a bit of the liquor on top of the drink without mixing it in.
Greenleaf also entered the drink Kuuipo, made with vodka, rum, peach schnapps, passion fruit syrup and 7-Up.