Think Globally, Drink Locally
I read a magazine article about the Four Seasons Hotel chain where they challenged their bars in the Americas to come up with cocktails using only ingredients from within a hundred-mile radius. I was inspired by this competition and I thought up one of my own: The Great Sconnie Sip-Off. I've expanded the field of supply to the entire State of Wisconsin and invited all the bars in our small chain to compete against mine.
It's true that the bar follows the kitchen, so the Locavore Movement's appearance in the bar should come as a surprise to no one. What we do in the bar is everyday more informed by techniques and ingredients used in the back of the house. In the past, there was a bright line delineating the two areas, maybe we shared a blender but they had recipes and we had formulas. Now, we have both. Bartenders head into the kitchen to make their own bitters, syrups, shrubs, tinctures and the like and to gather fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for infusions of every type of spirit. In recent years, chefs have begun to source their ingredients locally, and consequently we do the same. The Locavore Movement couldn't be hotter.
Locavores are interested in eating food that is locally produced, instead of traveling long distances to market. The benefits of this style of dining are manifold; less shipping makes "eating local" (or in this case "drinking local") easier on the environment, ingredients arrive fresher, farmer's markets support the communities they represent and interacting with the producers of our food gives us a psychological connection to the earth and each other. Local eating is a movement, not a trend.
The Great Sconnie Sip-Off will be held at the Waukesha Chancery on September 15th, 2012 at 7pm. It is open to the public and will be judged by Guy Rehorst of Great Lakes Distillery, Angie West of Alcoholmanac Magazine, Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube Bitters, Drew Wintermyer of EatMKE.com and one surprise guest judge. Also, all guests will be invited to sample the entries and vote for the People's Choice.
This event will be held twice a year, and will in the future be open to teams from other bars. If your bar is interested in competing, you are a producer of an ingredient you'd like us to consider, or if you are an industry professional with an interest in judging this event in the future, please contact me.