Steamboat sips: Truffle Pig’s twist on an old fashioned
December 15, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs entered the Denver ring of craft cocktail contenders earlier this month.
Equipped with a house-made recipe, Truffle Pig and Carl's took home the People’s Choice Award in the Knob Creek Repeal Day cocktail competition in Denver on Dec. 3.
And it was with their classic twist on an old fashioned, the granddaddy of classic cocktails composed of spirit, sugar, water and bitters, that secured the win.
"When you think of an old fashioned, it's typically sweet, spicy and spirit forward," said Mark Stanford, bar director and assistant general manager for Truffle Pig and Carl's Tavern, who was invited to compete in the competition through Beam-Suntory International. "You don't want to lose that woodiness, that sweetness from the maple brown taste you get from the bourbon. The elements you add to it should enhance the bourbon."
Through Carl’s Tavern, Stanford utilized a hand-selected barrel of Knob Creek bourbon, which is part of the “Barrel Select” program available at both Carl’s and Truffle Pig, and he competed against the biggest names in the cocktail scene on the Front Range.
Since the rules of the competition called for a pair of bartenders to serve samples of their chosen cocktail recipe during the event, Stanford enlisted the help of fellow Truffle Pig employees Ryan Oberly, Kenny Simmons and Sam Nelson.
They settled on a recipe that embraced the holidays with an Earl Grey lavender Demerara sugar and an all-spice bitter infused with star anise, cardamom spice, cinnamon and caraway seed.
What also set their old fashioned apart was the Luxardo maraschino liqueur, which added a sweet bite to the cocktail to pull the sugars and bitters together so they wouldn't fight each other. Then Stanford used orange bitters to give the drink its citrusy taste.
The final recipe component included the distinct taste of the Knobb Creek 120-proof small batch bourbon. For a garnish, Stanford used a candied ginger in clear ice, topping each ice cube with a thin sliver of orange peel.
A panel of three judges rated each cocktail in the categories of taste, creativity and diversity in spirits used, as well as the overall finished product and its ability to maintain the old fashioned’s character.
The recipes for the competition were submitted before the event and were narrowed down from 47 submissions to 10 for the final competition.
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Stanford and his team placed in the top three and won the People's Choice Award from a majority of the 263 people in attendance.
"For us to come down there and take down the big guys in Denver that was so cool for us," Stanford said. "There were a lot of people excited about Steamboat and what we're making in this little mountain town."