Made With Love, which started in Montreal in 2009, is an international bartending event with competitions in Canada, Mexico, and Spain. In Canada, it is known as the country’s largest mixology competition. The Canadian edition holds finals in various cities including Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City. The winners are sent to Montreal for the Nationals in May. There they compete for the chance to be declared the Best Barchef in Canada.

This year(2017), Made With Love Toronto finals were held at the Liberty Grand with 18 top bar chefs competing for the chance to be declared the very best in the city. Both the public and the industry casted their votes. The competition was intense with so many amazing cocktails and food pairings to sample. Each bar chef was given the choice of the partner brands to incorporate in their cocktails: 1800 Tequila Silver, Disaronno, Ungava Gin, Campari, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Appleton Jamaican Rum and Skyy Vodka. From there they had the freedom to create a one-of-a-kind taste experience. We noted the use of interesting ingredients like cold brew coffee, a variety of bitters, apple cider vinegar, maitake mushroom and barley tea, activated charcoal, kefir milk and yuzu juice. Adding these exotic flavours to the cocktails took them to a whole new level in mixology.

The food pairings also perfectly complemented the cocktails. One of the most memorable was R&D‘s kaya toast with pandan and coconut mousse, and brown butter crumbles on a toasted brioche. It was sweet, creamy and simply divine. It tasted great with their Dances With Dragons cocktail made with Skyy Vodka, pandan extract, orgeat, yuzu juice and mole flambe.

Leah Young of The Carbon Bar had an adorable Alice in Wonderland theme. Who could not appreciate being served aThe famous “Drink Me” potion entitled “Sometimes I’ve Believed as Many as Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast” cocktail with the famous “Drink Me” label from someone wearing rabbit ears while one was munching a lemon-pineapple sugar cookie with Campari almond icing.

Michele Maffei of Noce Bar & Restaurant, incorporated homemade lemon curd and mascarpone cream (among other ingredients) in his A Mexican in Sorrento cocktail. Dessa Harhay of The Chase mixed cold pressed beet juice with Skyy Vodka, which was so refreshing, in her Off the Beaten Path cocktail.

The winners were divided into jury’s choice and the public’s choice.

Both the jury’s choice and the public’s choice for first place was Jamison Cass of Baro Toronto, whose cocktail, From Past to Present, was made with 1800 Tequila Silver, pineapple shrub, Kaffir and eucalyptus gomme syrup, spiced banana mist and hickory smoked lava mist. He paired his concoction with Camarones borachos, drunken shrimp, and coconut rice. The jury’s choice for second place was Trirell Biggart of Luma and for third place was Danielle Yoon of Drinksmith Bar.

The public’s choice for second place was Nick Incretolli of Bar Sazerac whose cocktail, Jack’s Offering, was made with pork fat washed Appleton Jamaican Rum, fresh lime juice, Tonka bean cinnamon syrup, coconut milk angostura, pineapple bitters and bbq bitters, activated charcoal, fermented jerk pineapple punch and salt. Despite the complex mix, the food pairing was a simple jerk porchetta slider. The public’s choice for third place was Leah Young of The Carbon Bar.

Both Jamison Cass and Nick Incretolli are headed to the Nationals. We wish them the best of luck.

The other Toronto competitors& their creations were:

Nathanial Jai(Voodoo Child) – Coupe of Joe– Wild Turkey Bourbon,Kenya Kieni cold brew,pecan orgeat, grapefruit juice, candied pecan crumble and pink himalayan salt.

Christopher Whitlow (Parts & Labour)Fort Cracco– Campari, turmeric and herbaceous syrup, lime leaf tincture, Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate Bitters, Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters, chamomile & honey foam

Rob Male( Lake Road) – Devil’s Punch Bowl– Ungava Gin, blood orange, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, lime, 5ive Alive Oleo Saccharum, custom masala chai and 2% kefir milk

Michael O’Doherty( Byblos) – The Frequent Flyer – Wild Turkey Bourbon, Bittered Sling Denman Bitters, lemon juice, warming spice syrup, spiced tincture aleppo pepper, birds eye chilli and apple cider vinegar

Albert Chan (Whiff Waff Bar & Lounge)Three Little Birds– Appleton Estate V/X Rum, concentrated cold brew coffee, cold pressed cucumber syrup, Gentian and Cincona tonic.

Food pairing: espresso crusted beef tenderloin carpaccio with a rum and soy glaze.

Luis Martinez (El Catrin) – Spiked Tepache – 1800 Tequila Silver, tepache, grilled pineapple and serrano pepper cordial and Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters.

Food pairing; cob, lime juice, cilanto, queso fresco, Mexican chorizo, with dehydrated pineapple and chili powder

Chris Flink ( Cafe Belong)Cape Wolstenholme – Ungava Gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, Bittered Sling Gastown Bitters, Flink’s Drinks Lime-Mint Bitters and
seabuckthorn foam.

Food pairing: venison and juniper sausage with cloudberry compote

Dessa Harhay ( The Chase Fish & Oyster)Off the Beeten Path– Skyy Vodka, cold pressed fresh beet juice, strained fresh lemon juice, jalapeno-spiced syrup, muddled mint and cilantro, house tincture and Bittered Sling Lem Marrakesh Bitters.

Food pairing: pumpernickel toast, beet caviar, crispy salmon skin and creme fraiche.

Marian Walsh – Two Black Sheep – Steeltown Punch Clock- Campari, anise simple syrup, cold brew, topped with orange cream and orange zest.

Food pairing: orange anise shortbread.

Blake Spears – R&D – Dances With Dragons – Skyy Vodka, orgeat, pandan extract water, yuzu juice and mole flambe.

Food pairing; kaya toast, pandan and coconut mousse, brown butter crumble, toasted brioche.
Manuel Contreras – El Local Loco – Soren’s Tales – Diasronno, fresh lemon juice, apricot juice, rhubarb and juniper syrup, Bittered Sling Plum and Rootbeer Bitters, Bittered Sling Orange and Juniper Bitters.

Food pairing: ceviche de camaron served on a tostada with fresh avocado, pickled red onion, and radish seedlings.
Leah Young – The Carbon Bar – Six Impossible Things – Campari, blood orange, strawberry, pink peppercorn shrub, gum syrup infused with lemon zest oil, butterfly pea flower tea, lemon juice and cream.

Food pairing: Eat me lemon pineapple sugar cookies with Campari almond icing.

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