The Washington Cup Spirits Competition breaks all kinds of rules.
By ANNE BROCKHOFF
First, it’s only for American-made spirits and liqueurs. Second, it evaluates entries on both how they taste straight and how they perform in cocktails.
And finally, the judges don’t pick the winners. You do.
Well, you and everyone else who attends the Paris of the Plains Gala, a benefit for KCPT at the American Restaurant on Aug. 21.
Here’s how it works: a panel of industry experts in July analyzed the 100 or so entrants from Kansas, Missouri and more than half a dozen other states in a blind tasting.
Some are new brands, others established, but many are American gems that might be otherwise overwhelmed by global powerhouses in bigger competitions, said founder Doug Frost.
“A scant decade ago, there were only a handful of small craft distilleries — today there are hundreds,” Frost said in a news release. “We hold that these awards reflect accurately the state of distilling in America.
Entries that passed the initial screening were handed over to a team of bartenders, who created original cocktails with each. The spirits then were evaluated according to how they held up in a drink and awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal.
The top dozen of those now move on to the “people’s choice” phase of judging. Gala attendees will sample each cocktail — don’t worry, these are tasting portions — and then vote for their favorites. Washington Cups will be presented to the top vote-getters.
You’ll have to wait until after the event to find out who goes home with one of those. In the meantime, here’s what the locals have won so far:
360 Vodka, Weston, Mo. — Vodka (Silver Medal), Sorrento Lemon Vodka (Bronze Medal), Double Chocolate Vodka (Bronze Medal).
Dark Horse Distillery, Lenexa — Rider Vodka (Silver Medal), Reunion Rye Whiskey (Bronze Medal), Long Shot White Whiskey (Bronze Medal).
McCormick Distilling, Weston, Mo. — Triple Crown Blended Whiskey (Bronze Medal), Hook’s Spiced Rum (Bronze Medal), Hook’s Black Spiced Rum (Bronze Medal).
Missouri State University, Mountain Grove Cellars, Mountain Grove, Mo. — Blackberry (Gold Medal).
Montelle Winery, Augusta, Mo. — Aged Peach Eau de Vie (Silver Medal), Eau de Vie Mirabelle (Bronze Medal).
Spirits of St. Louis, St. Louis — Hopskey (Silver Medal), Regatta Bay Gin (Bronze Medal), J.J. Neukomm Missouri Malt Whiskey (Bronze Medal).
Tickets cost $100 and are available online at Paris of the Plains. Proceeds benefit KCPT.
Anne Brockhoff is an award-winning spirits writer who writes a monthly column for The Star’s Food section, as well as food features. She blogs at food_drink_ life.wordpress.com .