The brown liquor was flowing fast on Wednesday night at the Wildcat Lounge, where The Santa Barbara Independent hosted an action-packed amateur cocktail contest called the “Whiskey Rebellion.”
Seven contestants brought their whiskey-based bartending skills to be sipped and scrutinized by five willing judges, and once the ice had settled, Lynn Dubinsky was crowned the queen. Her “Master Cleanse Redux” (a.k.a. “The Stanley Burroughs”) thoroughly won the judges’ collective heart, and for that, she took home a bottle of Breakers Bourbon from the new Ascendant Spirits distillery in Buellton (ascendantspirits.com , two personal tours of Cutler’s Artisan Spirits (which will open this summer in the Funk Zone; cutlersartisan.com), and a plethora of other goodies, including whale-watching for two on the Condor Express and free passes to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History.
“Cocktails have gotten pretty precious lately — all that fresh fruit, herbs, and muddling,” Dubinsky wrote on her entry form. “But I feel like an alchemist putting it all together — those cruder metals and the hope for gold. It is hard to go terribly wrong — and hopefully your company is polite enough to drink what you put in front of them.”
As for her drink, she explained, “This entry is a riff on the classic liver ‘cleanse’ — a New Year’s tradition, and the diet Beyonce famously used to drop a quick 10 pounds for Dreamgirls.” The winning ingredients were Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Grade B Maple Syrup, Meyer lemon juice, pinch of fine grain sea salt, granulated maple sugar (for sugaring rim of glass), and cayenne pepper (and a bit to add to maple sugar for glass rim).
In second place was Beth Ramone, whose “It’s About Bloody Thyme!” was, as she described, “A bad-ass Bloody Mary, smoky and slightly sweet garnished with a slice of spicy candied bacon and a jalapeño shrimp.” And third place went to Emily Falke’s “Oh My Darling Clementine,” which featured John B. Stetson Bourbon Whiskey mixed with fresh squeezed Clementines, fresh squeezed Meyer lemon, fresh ginger, chai tea honey syrup, orange bitters, and granulated sugar for glass rim.