Shakedown winner: Arturo Vera-Felicie
We all know Arturo Vera-Felicie is a good bartender. Now the folks at Sazerac do, too. Vera’s Chambeli Cocktail topped The Gran Gala Shakedown, adding another title to his resume and earning him $5,000. Vera’s drink combines Gran Gala, Aperol, gin, bitters and lemon juice for a balanced and subtle drink that wowed judges like Robert Plotkin, spirits writer and publisher of AmericanCocktails.com.
From the press release: “I’ve judged many cocktail competitions and rarely has there been an immediate consensus as to the overall winner. In this case, the Chambeli Cocktail was clearly the best cocktail in the field,” Plotkin says. “The drink was surgically balanced such that you could easily taste all of the various ingredients. It had an engaging aroma and was thoroughly delicious.”
Vere’s been a constant in Kansas City’s classic cocktail scene, working at The Drop, 1924 Main, R Bar & Restaurant and Westport Café & Bar. Next stop: the soon-to-open Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange at 19th and Main.
This isn’t the first time Vera’s earned some press for his drinks. He was a finalist in the 2008 Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition and won the whole show with his West Bottoms Social Club in 2009. That cocktail was inspired the Clover Club, which is made with lemon juice, sugar, raspberry syrup, egg white and gin. Vera’s update instead went with Hendrick’s gin, egg white, gum syrup (an emulsifier made with gum Arabic), pickled fig syrup and lime juice.
The recipe for Vera’s new championship drink is below, and you can check out some of his others online as soon as Gran Gala updates its web site.
The Chambeli Cocktail: Pour 3/4 ounces Gran Gala, 3/4 ounces Aperol, 3/4 ounces dry gin, 2 dashes rhubarb bitters and 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice into a mixing glass. Fill glass partway with ice, shake and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an old-fashioned orange twist.