It didn’t seem too long ago that the Toronto qualifiers for the Made With Love cocktail competition were held. On March 30th, the competition to be Toronto’s best bartender culminated at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.

With over twenty bartenders participating, there was a plethora of unique cocktail choices.  My own favourites were Mike Crispo‘s (Soho House) Crisp “Hard Italian Soda”, consisting of Campari, carbonated water, blood orange juice, rosemary, acid phosphate, and sea salt.  This mix of blood orange, rosemary, and salt tickled the sweet, bitter, and salty taste buds at the same time. I also enjoyed drinking the cocktail from a bottle, which was sealed, cooled, and then unsealed when it was ready for serving.  Another personal favourite was Andrew Hunter‘s Butterface, which paired perfectly with The County General‘s crispy pigs ears from Chef Adam Alguire.

Each attendee was given a dog tag upon entry which they then used to vote for their favourite cocktail. After the results were tabulated, the public’s choices were:

  • First Place: Nick Incretolli’s Love in Milan | The Urban Tavern on George
    Milk-washed Campari, pistachio orgeat, lemon juice, eucalyptus syrup, egg white, eucalyptus tincture rinse
  • Second Place: Dan Tavares’ Maria de Milano | Mr. Flamingo
    Campari, rose water, grapefruit cordial, black pepper, carbonated water and cucumber
  • Third Place (tie): Jake Valianes’ Montego Bay Export Co. | Linwood Essentials
    Appleton Estate V/X Rum, barrel aged banana liqueur syrup, ugli fruit, mauby, lime, coffee, pimento bitters
  • Third Place (tie): Andrès Marquez‘s El Mexican Sour | Fonda Lola
    Disaronno, cold pressed roated lemon puree, cinammon maple syrup

The panel of judges consisted of Adrian Stein (El Caballito), Dr. Andrew Toplack, Frankie Solarik (Barchef), Michael Mooney (Geraldine) and Nishantha Nepulongoda (Blowfish). In the end, their picks were:

  • First Place: Dan Tavares’ Maria de Milano | Mr. Flamingo
  • Second PlaceMike Fortier‘s Rosa Primavera | Drake One Fifty
    Hendrick’s gin, rose and pink Campari, cucumber, wildflower cordial, Dillon’s Wormwood bitters
  • Third PlaceAlex James‘ Brown Butter Derby | Hopgood’s Foodliner
    Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, brown butter, toasted apple shrub, egg white

As North America’s largest mixology competition, the Made With Love Toronto finals lived up to the billing. For just over three hours, guests enjoyed the wide variety of cocktails from some of the city’s top bartenders, and the delectable bites to pair with them. Congratulations to all the winners, and we look forward to seeing them compete at the Made With Love national finals to be held in Toronto on May 25, 2015 at Everleigh.

For more information:
Twitter: @_MadeWithLove_ #EnjoyMWL
Instagram: @MadeWithLove_ #EnjoyMWL
Facebook: EnjoyMadeWithLove

Also check out our coverage from Made With Love’s previous competitions in 2014 and 2013.

Photos by John Tan

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John Tan

John is an avid traveller, but equally loves being a tourist in his own city. With camera in hand, he enjoys discovering the sights, sounds, tastes, and everything else that Toronto has to offer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@iam_johntan) to see what he's been up to lately.