On May 12, 2016, the second of five Bourbon Battles was waged Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. While the first battle in Lexington was centered around Maker’s Mark, the Portland battle featured Brown-Forman’s higher end products: Woodford Reserve Rye and Double Oaked Bourbon, Old Forester 1870 and 1897, and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof and Single Barrel Rye.
Before the festivities began there was an open cocktail bar offering Old Forester Signature old fashioneds, Manhattans and barrel-aged Boulevardiers. There were also boozy milkshakes and bourbon cakes and fudge in addition to various non-bourbon appetizers.
Hosted by Heather Greene, the competition pitted two of the Marriott’s own bartenders (Alejandro Monjeau of FLOE Lounge in Irvine, CA and Jason Marshall of Portland’s Bistro by Truss) against two Portland bartenders from other bars: Jessica Braasch of Bible Club and Chino Lee of Bit House Saloon, Quality Bar and Paddy’s. The bartenders had to make three drinks: a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned and a “contemporary cocktail” using a local mystery ingredient.
The first round went to Chino Lee’s Manhattan consisting of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Punt e Mes, Dolin Rouge, vanilla, sea salt, and bitters. The second round went to Chino Lee’s simple and elegant Old Fashioned with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof, Regan’s and Fee Bros. orange bitters, and muscovado sugar. Despite a shaker that came unsealed spraying cocktail all over, the third round went to… you guessed it, Chino Lee! His whiskey sour contained Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond bourbon, an amazing apricot spice shrub and the local mystery ingredient Clear Creek marionberry liqueur. When asked about the shaker mess after the battle, Chino laughed and said, “The crowd loves a car wreck!”
The other contestants scores surprisingly added up to a 3-way tie for second. Mr. Lee will continue onto the finals in Brooklyn.
There’s still time to catch the final two battles: May 25, 2016, at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf and the final featuring the 4 previous winners on National Bourbon Day June 14, 2016, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. The event was easily the most fun I’ve ever had in a hotel lobby and I highly recommend checking out the rest!