The challenge was simple, make the best Catdaddy cocktail!

Catdaddy is one of the most unique spirits around. Every bottle is handcrafted in small batches by the folks at Piedmont Distillers, in the little town of Madison, NC. Catdaddy is born in a copper still, made from corn and triple distilled to deliver a one-of-a-kind, ultra-smooth spirit. Some say they taste vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon or citrus in Catdaddy, however none of these ingredients is used to make our secret recipe.

The Bar Chef Challenge began in the spring of 2010, when Catdaddy challenged professional and amateur mixologists to create the best Catdaddy cocktail. Nearly 50 recipes were submitted and the Catdaddy team got to work mixing, tasting and ranking each one. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

So many of the recipes were delicious, but in the end, only three mixologists could move on to the final challenge. The Top 3 Finalist were, Mountain Moonshine Punch by Jim Kearns, New York mixologist who’s currently a bar consultant, bar manager and bartender at the acclaimed Rye House. Last Kiss by Giacomo Cuccurullo, a native Italian who is now a Bar Chef Instructor at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico. And lastly, Chinese Bootlegger by Payman Bahmani a Brooklyn-based mixologist who runs the cocktail event and consulting company Life's a Cocktail.

Jim, Giacomo and Payman were each rewarded with a trip to Tales of the Cocktail (an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans, LA) to present their cocktails. Their trip included 2 nights at the Hotel Monteleone, six complimentary tickets to Tales of the Cocktail seminars and $500 cash. Their recipes will also be featured in an issue of Mutineer Magazine.

But, only one of them would be declared the winner of the Golden Mason Jar trophy. On a sweltering New Orleans afternoon, the finalists, Catdaddy team, hundreds of cocktail enthusiasts and the distinguished judging panel gathered in a Hotel Montelone ballroom to end the suspense and declare the best Catdaddy cocktail.

The winner was chosen

The Judges, Joe Michalek (Founder of Piedmont Distillers), Dale DeGroff, Paul Tuennerman and Alan Kropf & Jeff Dorenbush of Mutineer Magazine, kicked off the festivities by tasting each of the cocktails. Then it was time for everyone else to enjoy the libations. After the votes had been calculated, Payman Bahmani and his Chinese Bootlegger was declared the winner of the Golden Mason Jar trophy. The rest of the crowd agreed with the judges, so Payman was also awarded the Moonshine Still trophy for having the People’s Choice cocktail.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first Bar Chef Challenge! Enjoy the recipes from Jim, Payman and Giacomo – they’re all winners in our book.

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