Bartender Shootout

This winter, David Kaplan joined a panel of all-star judges at the Wyoming Whiskey-sponsored Bartender Shootout finals held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. To qualify for the final shootout, bartenders from all over Wyoming participated in four regional rounds held throughout the state and the qualifiers included the overall champion Chad Taylor of Zinc Bar at Amangani Hotel. At the judge’s table, Kaplan was joined by Chicago mixologist Johnny Costello and 2014 Shootout champion Jesse Brown.

The finals, held at The Rose in Jackson (a speakeasy type of bar that Kaplan and Day helped to create) saw a lot of whiskey (Wyoming Whiskey, that is) slinging and the judges were most impressed by Taylor’s Boulevard 22. Taylor, who was a finalist in the 2014 competition, says, “It’s great to get together with other bartenders from all over the state—they’re talented and I get inspired seeing what they come up with.” A Jackson Hole bartender for the past 15 years, Taylor worked for the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for eight years “slinging beer and whiskey cokes before getting introduced to the amazing world of craft cocktails at The Rose where I worked for three years before going to Zinc.”

Before the competition, Taylor, who says, “Being behind the bar is where I’m most at home,” experimented with a number of cocktails to come up with just the right one—a cocktail with a flavor profile that would highlight Wyoming Whiskey. The winning cocktail, Boulevard 22, has Wyoming Whiskey, Aperol, Calvados, orange bitters, and a sage/honey tea. The cocktail is served at room temperature, which, I think, is one of the things that really intrigued the judges. It’s meant to be enjoyed out of a snifter just as a fine brandy would be after dinner. But it’s delicious by the fire after a day of playing as well.”

And the judges agreed.

Rapid Fire with Chad Taylor

I’ll take my bourbon with… just a couple of cubes.

A bartender should never… put an energy drink into a cocktail. NEVER!

If I could only drink one cocktail for the rest of my life it would be… an Arnie Palmer! You can detox with the iced tea, re-hydrate since there is lots of water in the lemonade and tea, and catch a buzz from the vodka all in one drink! And there’s no hangover because of the natural sugars. (Uh-huh. Sure.)

The Winning Cocktail

The Boulevard 22

  • 2 oz Wyoming Whiskey
  • 1 oz sage honey tea*
  • ½ oz Calvados
  • ½ oz Aperol
  • 4 dashes of orange bitters

Stir in a glass, no ice, just mix all together. Pour into a snifter glass. Express a lemon peel (do not put peel into drink). Float a sage leaf as garnish.

* To make the sage tea, use 10-15 sage leaves steeped in 3 oz of hot water, and stir in 1 bar spoon of honey.