Brew and Booze News

An Evening At The American Spirits Bartender Competition

Event Emcee Kacie McDonnell with Stephen Diaz of 10 Arts and Ryan Lax of The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia

Event Emcee Kacie McDonnell with Stephen Diaz of 10 Arts and Ryan Lax of The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia

On Wednesday, February 27th (i.e. two nights ago), Limpd and I attended the American Spirits Bartender Competition at the Stratus Rooftop Lounge which is located on the top floor of the Hotel Monaco in Old City Philadelphia. This event was sponsored by the National Constitution Center as part of their current exhibition, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, and featured 1920’s inspired cocktails made by four different bartenders from four different Center City Philadelphia hotels.

Much like in an Iron Chef competition, each bartender was required to incorporate one specific ingredient into each of their cocktail creations. For this particular competition, the required ingredient was Bluecoat Gin which just happens to be distilled in Philadelphia and which was also a sponsor of the event.

Below are the names of the host, judges, and bartenders that participated in this event:

During our two hour stay at the Stratus Rooftop Lounge, we tried each of the cocktails (all four were quite quaffable!), enjoyed some light snacks, talked with all of the bartenders about their creations, met several people that work in some aspect of the growing Philadelphia nightlife and entertainment industry (i.e. a representative from Philadelphia Distilling, the founder of Drink Philly, the marketing and PR people from the National Constitution Center), and we even had a brief word with a local celebrity (Fox 29’s Howard Eskin). This proved to be yet another wonderful event which we were lucky enough to attend.

In the spirit of “a picture is worth a thousand words“, below are some photos from the event for your viewing pleasure…

And for your drinking pleasure, below are recipes for the four cocktails that were served during the event:


The “Guest Favorite” Award Winning Cocktail: The Red Fizz Charleston by Stephen Diaz of 10 Arts, The Ritz Carlton Hotel

  • 2 oz. Bluecoat Gin
  • 1 oz. St Germain.
  • 1.5 oz. Fresh Raspberry Syrup
  • .5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a splash of Dry Brut Champagne. Garnish with a fresh lemon twist and skewered fresh raspberries.


The “Judge Favorite” Award Winning Cocktail: Orange Blossom by Nate Churchill of XIX, Hyatt At The Bellevue

  • Bluecoat Gin
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Orange Juice
  • Honey
  • Dashes of Bitters

Serve in an 8 ounce mason jar or shot glasses. Garnish with orange zest.


Limpd’s Favorite Cocktail: The Powder Room Punch by Chauncey Scates of Square 1682, Palomar Hotel

  • 1.5 oz. Bluecoat Gin
  • .5 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. Jasmine Tea
  • .75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz. Grenadine (Pomegranate Juice Reduction)
  • 1 dash of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters

Serve in a punch or rocks glass.


G-LO’s Favorite Cocktail: Jazz Baby by Bess Gulliver of Stratus Rooftop Lounge, Hotel Monaco

  • 1.5 oz. Bluecoat Gin
  • 1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
  • .25 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
  • 1 barspoon Averna Amaro

Stir over ice and serve in a small cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.


Many thanks to the good people at the National Constitution Center for inviting us to this outstanding event!

12 replies »

  1. Had I known about this, I would have competed against them with my Meryl Streep Sweeper (though I use Hendricks as opposed to Blue Coat). I guess that explains why I was overlooked. Might be a few other reasons to but the circa ’72 Quiana shirt with outrageously huge lapels isn’t one of them.

    So, first of all, that lounge looks great. I’d like to put in the rotation for a Philly cocktail research loop along with Continental and Franklin Bar. I’d ask what you and Howard Eskin chatted about but I know better (and I thought he was a prohibition era anti alcohol guy (like I was freshman year at Syracuse), or a Menonite.

    Seems like it was a fun event. Love the pics – especially the layout of the collage. Did I miss it or did you not say which cocktail won the BoozeDancer’s affections?

    Look at that, I managed to get through an entire comment without mentioning Mandy Patinkin even though I watched him last night. And I didn’t mention the Symbian Liberation Army either. Progress.



    • Meryl Streep Sweeper? Would that be the Cocktail that you created when you played Jew to Greek Orthodox to Jew Cabana Boy during Mrs. Alemonger’s screening of Mamma Mia! for the Ladies That Imbibe Auxiliary at the “Toddlery / Barclay Flats Bar and Grill”?

      Very very lovely lounge, though I wish they would take down some masonry and install some glass so that you can get an unobstructed view of the skyline. Put it on the future cocktail research itinerary! And you are correct, I conversed not with The Eskin. Limpd threw out some Philly Sports Lingo though, so there was actual engagement with the Sports Whiz Kid.

      My favorite cocktail was the Jazz Baby, but truth be told, all were infinitely quaffable. Cocktails are the ruin of me, so I must control my bottomless thirst and limit my intake lest I get dropped off on my doorstep by the meat wagon, which would be an impressive feat considering that my house doesn’t have a front step. Just a slab of cracked concrete.

      Two words: Patty Hearst.


      • There are advantages to being dropped off at a stepless front doorstep. For starters, you’d be subject to a slightly lower risk of multiple trauma. After that, your eventual ingress through the portal itself will be more easily navigable. What sort of meat wagon would you expect to effect transit? Surely not one of my Tribe’s. No way you could pass for Kosher no matter how many slabs of Gefelte Fish you down.

        Yes, the Meryl Street Sweeper was one of the featured cocktails for Mamma Mia though I didn’t do the Jew – Greek Orthodox – Cabana Boy thing in such rapid succession during that evening. I was firmly back in the fold (well, maybe not) by then.

        Oh, and I forgot a couple of things:

        1. To truly parallel Iron Chef they needed to have a more “esoteric or challenging” secret ingredent. Something like live pregnant guppies during fishbirth or gender neutral okra stems.

        2. Were you able to gently or otherwise (i.e. credibly threaten Jihad) coerce the DrinkPhilly people to move Philly Beer Week so it doesn’t conflict with my trip to Austin? I wouldn’t want to have to kidnap the H.O.G. again like I did last year……


  2. Eskin? Celebrity? Come on … More like local werewolf. That’s my only objection to this post. Otherwise it looks like a great event and I am not surprised that your favorite concoction has Averna (aka Italian NyQuil) in it.

    I will spare you my normal objections to the concept of mixed drinks (granted in recent years my negative position on mixology has softened thanks, in no small part, to the fine people at Hendricks Gin).


    • Like I pay attention to sportscasters or whatever it is he does for a living. I’ve been hearing people say his name for the past 20+ years, hence the celebrity monicker.

      Regarding the Averna, don’t call it Italian Nyquil until you try Fernet Branca Menta. A little of that stuff goes a long way. And regarding the merits of the cocktail, it’s a great change of pace. Man can not live on Craft Beer and Whisk(e)y alone. Oh wait. I take that back.


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