The cocktails that won big at Battle of the Bartenders

Mixologists from 14 different restaurants competed in the 7th annual Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders on Wednesday, March 4 at The Steam Plant in Dayton.  TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

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Mixologists from 14 different restaurants competed in the 7th annual Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders on Wednesday, March 4 at The Steam Plant in Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

When it comes to dining out, food usually takes center stage.

The Miami Valley Restaurant Association's “Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders” challenge that took place Wednesday, March 4, at the Steam Plant in downtown Dayton put the spotlight on what can often be the unsung hero of the meal — the mighty cocktail.

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There were 14 restaurants and bartenders vying for bragging rights and some very nice prizes and awards.

The majority of the cocktails that were presented were very creative. All had to feature Buckeye Vodka as the main mixer and many hinted to the promise of warm weather with cocktails that had a summery bent.

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The competition from the 14 different restaurants was as stiff as the drinks being poured.

Having served as one of the judges, I can say that the entries and thought that went into them was impressive.

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Here’s what rose to the top:

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The Winds' "Gold Blooded" cocktail made with a beet, blood orange, carrot and apple juice mixture zipped up with fresh ginger, a rosemary and lemon-infused vodka, with a foam topper made with Saint Germain Elderflower liqueur and blood orange. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

The Winds' "Gold Blooded" cocktail made with a beet, blood orange, carrot and apple juice mixture zipped up with fresh ginger, a rosemary and lemon-infused vodka, with a foam topper made with Saint Germain Elderflower liqueur and blood orange. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

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The Winds' "Gold Blooded" cocktail made with a beet, blood orange, carrot and apple juice mixture zipped up with fresh ginger, a rosemary and lemon-infused vodka, with a foam topper made with Saint Germain Elderflower liqueur and blood orange. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

BEST COCKTAIL 

First Place

THE WINDS

This was a love it or hate it proposition with beets being one of the main ingredients, but the six judges fell in love with the Winds "Gold Blooded" cocktail made with a beet, blood orange, carrot and apple juice mixture zipped up with fresh ginger, a rosemary and lemon infused vodka, with a foam topper made with Saint Germain Elderflower liqueur and blood orange. It was bright in flavor and sparkled thanks to a dusting of gold flakes. The balance of the drink was perfect and something the judges continued to come back to throughout the event. The beets did not overwhelm, but the sweetness complimented the other ingredients perfectly and brought out beautiful color to the cocktail.

215 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

(937) 767-1144

windscafe.com

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Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's "An Apple A Day." AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's "An Apple A Day." AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

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Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's "An Apple A Day." AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

Second Place

MEADOWLARK

Meadowlark's cocktail "An Apple A Day" was made with Buckeye Vodka infused with apple, rosemary and lemon zest, a rosemary simple syrup, apple brandy, lemon juice, a little golden balsamic vinegar and topped with a sparkling cava. It was an easy sipper that was light, refreshing and something you would definitely order up again.

5531 Far Hills Ave., Dayton 

(937) 434-4750 

Meadowlarkrestaurant.com 

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Mixologists from 14 different restaurants competed in the 7th annual Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders on Wednesday, March 4 at The Steam Plant in Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Mixologists from 14 different restaurants competed in the 7th annual Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders on Wednesday, March 4 at The Steam Plant in Dayton.  TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Combined ShapeCaption
Mixologists from 14 different restaurants competed in the 7th annual Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders on Wednesday, March 4 at The Steam Plant in Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Third Place

EL MESON

Did you know that pomelo is the largest fruit in the citrus family? You do now, and you would have if you were at the event trying El Meson's cocktail made with a red peppercorn infused simple syrup mixed with Buckeye vodka, fresh squeezed pomelo and dry ice that brought a nice dramatic effect to it? It was refreshing with a little kick that kept you coming back for more.

903 Dixie Drive, Dayton 

(937) 859-8229 

www.elmeson.net 

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Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's cocktail. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's cocktail. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

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Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house-made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's cocktail. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

BEST PAIRING

MEADOWLARK

Chef Elizabeth Wiley and her team from Meadowlark paired a house made pimento cheese with smoked sausage on a cracker with bartender Carolyn Porter's creation (see above) to make a tasty homage to the South. The food was rich and full and the cocktail was light and flavorful with the apple and rosemary playing off the cheese and sausage perfectly.

5531 Far Hills Ave., Dayton 

(937) 434-4750 

Meadowlarkrestaurant.com 

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Roost's "Kyoto Sunset" was made with sage-infused vodka mixed with a yuzu puree, lillet rose and peach bitters. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

Roost's "Kyoto Sunset" was made with sage-infused vodka mixed with a yuzu puree, lillet rose and peach bitters. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

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Roost's "Kyoto Sunset" was made with sage-infused vodka mixed with a yuzu puree, lillet rose and peach bitters. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

ROOST

This was one of my favorites, but didn't rise to the top for the panel of judges. The cocktail, "Kyoto Sunset" was made with sage-infused vodka mixed with a yuzu puree, lillet rose and peach bitters. It was delicious on its own and a great compliment to the Roost meatball topped with a mint puree with diced Persian cucumber and pickled shallots.

524 E. Fifth St., Dayton 

(937) 222-3100 

https://roostitalian.com 

2020 Buckeye Vodka Battle of the Bartenders participating restaurants:

• Amber Rose Restaurant, 1400 Valley St., Dayton

• Archers Tavern, 2030 E. Dorothy Lane, Kettering

• Archers Tavern, 9496 Dayton-Lebanon Pike, Centerville

• Calypso Smokehouse and Grill, 1535 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

• Carillon Brewing Company, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

• Carver’s, 1535 Miamisburg Road, Washington Twp.

• El Meson, 903 E Dixie Dr., West Carrollton

• Giovanni's, 215 W. Main St., Fairborn

• Meadowlark, 5531 Far Hills Ave., Dayton

• Mr. Boro's Tavern, 495 N. Main St., Springboro

• Roost American, 580 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

• Tavern at the Greene, 920 W. Dayton Yellow Springs Rd., Fairborn

• Wandering Griffin, 3725 Presidential Dr., Beavercreek

• Wheat Penny, 515 Wayne Ave, Dayton

• Winds Cafe, 215 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs

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PAST BATTLE OF THE BARTENDERS BEST COCKTAIL WINNERS 

2019: Meadowlark Carolyn Porter “Dutchess of Earl”

2018: Brock McKibben of Wheat Penny " Merchant's Wife"

2017: Bill Castro of El Meson "Tamiami Miami"

2016: Nikolas Hunt of Coco’s Bistro “Coco’s Ruby Slipper”

2015: Amber Brady of Lily’s Bistro “Rosemary’s Babee”

2014: Dustin Wade of Meadowlark “The Root of All Evil”

Contact this contributing writer at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com. 

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