Sombra Mezcal, a spirit distilled to sustain the land and the people of Oaxaca, announces the 12 finalists of its first-ever sustainable cocktail competition, “Shake and Stir to Sustain the Land and the People,” judged by Trash Tiki. Sombra Mezcal sets the highest standards for eco-friendly production at its palenque in Oaxaca to ensure consistent quality and innovation from the fields to the bottle.
More than 100 bartenders from across the U.S. submitted cocktail recipes showcasing Sombra Mezcal with at least two demonstrably sustainable ingredients. They included vegetable tops and tails, fruit pits, nutshells, herb stems and onion skin ash.
Sombra Mezcal collaborated with Trash Tiki’s Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths, two acclaimed bartenders at the forefront of the cocktail scene’s global anti-waste movement. They recreated and tasted each recipe and ultimately narrowed down the 12 finalists. The process was conducted virtually to minimize the competition’s carbon footprint. The punk rock-styled duo began to focus on sustainable cocktails while at London’s Dandelyan, which was named “World’s Best Bar” by World’s 50 Best Bars this month.
The competition’s Grand Prize winner will receive an all-expenses paid week-long apprenticeship at Sombra Mezcal’s palenque in Oaxaca. Its groundbreaking green initiatives include using certified sustainable wood, rainwater, solar power and upcycling distillation by-products into adobe bricks for local housing.
“The submissions really ranged from simple and classic to quite complicated in execution,” say Ramage and Griffiths. “Since the entries left what is a sustainable ingredient really open to interpretation and the contestant’s own creativity, we really got the full spectrum of different ingredients and cocktails. The top 12 were all really close, as they had all taken the step of creating an original anti-waste recipe. We thank every bartender that participated.”
“We were really inspired by the bartending community’s embrace of our virtual cocktail competition,” says John Sean Fagan, Distiller and Director General, Sombra Mezcal. “The recipes submitted really rose to the challenge of creating delicious cocktails that are also eco-friendly. Sustainable cocktails are in their infancy and it will take the entire bartending community’s collaboration to perfect them. With these recipes as a first glimpse, their future looks bright indeed.”
The 12 Finalists’ Sustainable Cocktails in Alphabetical Order with Commentary by Trash Tiki
- Tristan Bragaglia-Murdock, “Curse of the Cactus” (Jabberwocky, Ottawa)
“Tristan showed some great creativity by giving our chopping board cordial a killer update and the mint stem sherry was also a lovely touch!”
- Luke Carnevale, “Piña Dorado” (Manna Avenue, Wilmington, N.C.)
“Luke’s bar is located in North Carolina and he made excellent use of local ingredients sourced from his area. He made a longleaf pine syrup and used a sea salt extracted using solar evaporation by a local couple.”
- Marshall Davis, “Hyena Fang” (Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, Raleigh, N.C.)
“Marshall paired Amontillado sherry with peanut-infused Sombra Mezcal and a peanut shell salted Zucca, which is a really creative use of flavors and an interesting use of the shells that we hadn’t seen anyone do before.”
- Michael Dumapias, “El Jefe” (Broken Shaker Miami)
“Mike showed why we’re always in awe of what the Shaker fam produces. This was just a great drink that we hope makes its way onto a menu real soon! The coffee liqueur recipe we’re def stealing.”
- Kate Gerwin, “Like White on Rice” (Front & Cooper, Santa Cruz, Calif.)
“This drink just had us smiling, brilliantly creative and bold, just like everything Kate does, and we were happily drinking the extra rice fennel horchata for days after!”
- Tony Lamperti, “The Devil’s in the Details” (Ace Hotel, New Orleans)
“Tony’s drink stood out as he made a simple twist on an old tequila classic, the El Diablo. However, he had made each ingredient out of something from his bar that would have ordinarily been destined for the trash.”
- Melissa Markert, “Oaxaca Colada” (The Dead Rabbit, New York)
“Loved Melissa using buttermilk, showing how by-products can still be commercially viable and the lime sherbet added a great kick an incredibly well-balanced cocktail.”
- Jon Mateer, “Para La Tierra” (Death & Co. Denver)
“Para La Tierra translates to “For the Earth,” and it was the interesting use of ingredients that made this drink stand out. Jon used tops and tails of bell peppers that were left over from the kitchen of the hotel, along with open Chardonnay and an onion skin ash, along with a citrus scrap cordial.”
- Blaze Montana, “Scoby Wan Kenobi” (Front & Cooper, Santa Cruz, Calif.)
“Best name of the comp! Also loved the bold direction of submitting a fully batched drink and, as kombucha lovers, the way this works with Sombra Mezcal is something we’ll definitely be revisiting as a flavor profile for future drinks!”
- Maggie Morgan, “Todo Bien” (Manolito, New Orleans)
“Maggie used tops and tails of Serrano and bell peppers, along with strawberry tops, to create a “basura” cordial that paired up with a pineapple tepache that we thought were great flavors to pair with Sombra Mezcal.”
- Zach Sapato, “Peach Buzz” (The Lowry Uptown, Minneapolis, Minn.)
“Zach’s drink was delicious, but also made use of the whole peach, including the juice and using the nut to make an orgeat syrup. He paired it with a dill infusion and prosecco vinegar.”
- Brendan Wooldridge, “Smoke & Pearls” (Chambar Restaurant, Vancouver)
“Brendan flexed hard with a truly creative serve and the multi-use on the strawberries.”
About Sombra Mezcal
Founded in 2006, Sombra Mezcal sets the highest standard in Mezcal production. Made from organically farmed, high altitude Espadín agave and distilled in Oaxaca, Mexico at the traditional strength of 90 proof, Sombra Mezcal was named the “Best Agave Spirit in the World” by F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal. It later earned Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
In 2017, Sombra opened a new, state-of-the-art distillery (palenque) created as a model of sustainable production. The resulting Mezcal is a testament that world-class agave spirits do exist outside of Tequila. Sombra Mezcal is part of Davos Brands’ premium portfolio that includes Aviation Gin, Astral Tequila and TYKU Sake.