And the Bartender Challenge winner is...


Craft & Commerce’s Christian Siglin took home the Otis Buffalo Memorial Trophy Tuesday night, dethroning two-time reigning champ Anthony Schmidt of Noble Experiment in the 3rd Annual El Dorado Bartender Challenge.

Through head-to-head battle rounds (play-off style), the guys behind Seven Grand, Noble Experiment, Prohibition, El Dorado Cocktail Lounge, Craft & Commerce, The Lion’s Share, Saltbox and Cusp Dining & Drinks shook, stirred, used old-school techniques, added a touch of creative flair and presented their masterpieces to a panel of critical judges.

The five judges making the calls included Jason Wylde of San Francisco’s Bourbon and Branch, craft spirits specialist Levi Walker, Kyle Hall of San Diego’s, Ron Donohu of Pacific Magazine and myself, keeping up with the boys and the bartender’s sweet-n-strong creations. U-T San Diego’s Chris Cantore emceed the night.

In four minutes, the bartenders were off to create an original cocktail using pre-determined bases, fresh ingredients and one unknown secret ingredient per round. Drinks were ranked on aroma, flavor, balance, presentation, creativity and overall impression. And the prize? Besides bragging rights, the winner took home the Otis Buffalo Memorial Trophy and $200 cash.

Before Christian Siglin snagged his grand prize, the final championship round paired him against an underdog in the competition, Nate Howell of Cusp Dining & Drinks and Hiatus Bar in Hotel La Jolla. This fresh transplant from Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago proved to be a bartender to watch in San Diego. Not to mention, a stellar performer, singing and dancing while shaking and stirring his runner-up drink.

A portion of the evening’s bar sales went towards the On-Life Suicide Prevention Organization.

Christian’s winning cocktail – the Hype-No-Tiki – gave the seven other players a run for their money. Here’s his winning recipe (Hypnotic Harmony was the unknown modifying spirit in the final round).

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin

.5 oz Hypnotic Harmony

.75 oz lemon

.5 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio)

1 egg white

Top with Peychaud Bitters

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