Houston bartender hopes to shake things up at national contest

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 10:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 9:49 AM

HOUSTON -- A Houston bartender will head to Las Vegas this weekend to show he is one of the best in the business.

Rob Cook is a finalist in the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender contest. He and other contestants will be whipping up their recipes in front of a packed house in Caesar’s Palace.

Cook’s drink is Liguria Lemon Sour. Liguria is a region of Italy. It all begins with the humble lemon. Cook took a liking to Limoncello, a liqueur from Liguria and decided to make his own.

“I take grain alcohol and I take 17 lemons, micro plane and zest them and let it sit for two months,” Cook said.

Patience is another key ingredient. The Bellaire High School graduate works at J. Blacks on South Heights Boulevard and Washington. He’s been tending bar in Houston for 13 years.

“Give me a slow night, I’ll probably make up a drink,” Cook joked.

The 34-year-old has entered the Bombay Sapphire contest before, but this year he is Houston’s winner. He said his recipe enhances the flavors already infused in the gin, especially the lemon peel and coriander botanicals.

So Cook, who likes to cook, pointed to an ice tray saying, “These are my homemade toasted coriander ice cubes.”

He makes a tea, steeping the toasted corianders for about 10 minutes, and then pours the water into ice trays. He explained, “As the ice melts it actually imparts more flavor instead of taking away from it.”

Add an egg white, some serious shaking and, voila, a brand new craft cocktail is born, that may be the toast of the national contest.

There will be 50 bartenders mixing it up in Vegas. The national winner goes to the World Championship.

“You get flown to Paris and get to stay there four or five nights,” he said. “The grand prize winner gets the front cover of GQ magazine.”

All the Vegas finalists are in an upcoming feature spread in GQ.

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