2015 Queen Mary Mixology and Dinner
Cocktails and Four-Course Pairing Competition
By Kay Schroeder
Long Beach(Perfect Meal Today)9/4/15/–New in the repertoire of the 2015 Barrel Dinner Series was the August 27 Mixology and Dinner held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The Queen’s Salon proved to be a fittingly royal setting for this first-time ever event. Kudos go out to the event planners for their innovativeness in the creation of the competition objectives, rules, judging, and awards criteria.
Upon entering the Queen’s Salon at precisely 6:00 p.m., guests were greeted by formally attired waiters holding silver trays of a wonderful concoction of ice, pureed watermelon and vodka. With daylong temperatures in the 90’s, this drink provided a refreshing respite, creating a relaxed ambiance for what was to come. A few steps further into the dining room, other waiters offered an array of hors d’oeuvres consisting of tiny ice cream cones filled with chicken salad, sausage rollups, chicken satay on skewers, and giant, fried butterflied shrimp with Panko crumb crust.
For this competition, four professional mixologists were selected to show their mixology mettle and compete for cash prizes of $2,000. Queen Mary’s Executive Chef, Todd Henderson selected a different dinner course for each mixologist who was tasked to create a cocktail that would pair well with the food for his particular course.
To ensure that a cross-section of tastes/opinions were represented in the judging, diners were asked to rate and assign points to each competitor on three characteristics: (1) Showmanship, (2) Taste and Appearance of the Cocktail, and (3) The Flavor Profile of the Cocktail/Food Pairing.
Chef Henderson’s menu did not disappoint in delivering a Herculean challenge to each mixologist to devise the perfect cocktail; i.e., for the perfect cocktail/food pairing.
The opulent menu consisted of the first course potato latkes with smoked trout, second course caramelized black cod with salted apricot, third course braised pork belly and grits, and fourth course golden stracciatella (Italian soup containing eggs and cheese) served in a chocolate egg shell.
As each course was served, diners carefully tasted and analyzed the food and the accompanying, specially designed cocktail, then dutifully recorded the ratings on their individual scorecard. Waiters were admirably efficient in food/cocktail service, and removal of dishware, thereby preparing the table for the next course. In between the courses, the congenial conversation at the table consisted of guests getting to know each other. Several couples had attended many of these dinners and commented that they viewed this as an opportunity for a mini vacation by reserving a hotel room on the Queen Mary. People from another table said they had just arrived in Long Beach that afternoon from South Africa and that this dinner was a part of their planned itinerary – and I thought I had travelled a long distance from Aliso Viejo!
When all courses had been served and scored, guests were invited to go up to the top deck to await the competition results, enjoy a cocktail, and to visit the complimentary Premium Cigar Bar. Here cigar experts shared their expertise on the finer points of cigar making, selection, and the proper way to enjoy a good cigar. Guests were also given the opportunity to request a cigar to go.
Excitement and anticipation increased on the top deck as guests met and chatted with the four mixology contestants. Each guest no doubt was routing for his/her chosen one. Finally all was revealed when the following announcements were made:
Cocktails and Four-Course Pairing Competition
The $200 Fourth Place Winner is
The $300 Third Place Winner
The $500 Second Place Winner i
The $1,000 2015 Queen Mary Mixology and Dinner Winner
Pete Marchica, Michael’s on Naples, The Cliff (from IHOP TV ad) Cocktail
David Valiante, Bar Director, the Exhibition Room, The Sands of Time Cocktail
Gregory Going, Lead Bartender, Bo Beau, Words Can’t Expresso Cocktail
Kevin Chisam, Chianina Steakhouse, Lemon Meringue Rye Cocktail
Congratulations to all of these awesome mixologists.
The high level of friendly and fun participation and engagement exhibited by the guests throughout the entire evening provided pretty convincing feedback that they were glad they sprang for the $130 ticket.
The last dinner in the 2015 Barrel Dinner Series and its theme are yet to be announced for details on this sure to be fun and exciting close to the 2015 Barrel Dinner Series.
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211