The purpose of the Liquor.com Legacy cocktail competition is to find a recipe that stands the test of time. But how can you tell if a cocktail is timeless without building a time machine or waiting a few decades to announce the winner?
One thing’s for sure: You need to do more than just read a recipe.
Liquor.com went so far as to invite world-renowned bartenders and industry experts to Los Angeles to mix and taste all 190 eligible cocktail submissions. The judges had 48 hours to choose the 24 cocktail recipes with the best shot at immortality.
Adding this extra step was a priority because Liquor.com wanted to ensure that every contestant who entered the competition was given a fair shot. This kind of rigorous approach is the only way for the judges to really dig into the drink and understand the way in which the competitors showcased, the sponsor, BACARDÍ.
In addition to Bacardí Superior, Bacardí Gold and Bacardí Reserva Ocho, this year’s Legacy contestants were able to use one of the BACARDÍ family’s newest expressions: Bacardí Añejo Cuatro.
“Taking the time to recreate each of these cocktails, taste them and read about what inspired them allowed us to connect with the bartenders who created these entries,” said Alexis Doctolero, a Legacy judge and the vice president of trade marketing at Liquor.com.
Judge David Cid tries one of the 190 entries in Liquor.com Legacy.
Another judge, BACARDÍ global master of rum and cane spirits David Cid, spoke about why preparing the cocktails was as important as tasting them. “It’s important to see how easy it is to source all of the ingredients and replicate the cocktail,” he said.
That gets to what separates Legacy from other bartender competitions and, by extension, why a timeless cocktail isn’t the same as an innovative one. Daiquiris and Mojitos have a well-balanced and appealing flavor, but these classics continue to be so popular because they’re simple to make and don’t require any obscure ingredients.
The experts judged cocktails on concept, ability to replicate and storytelling.
Legacy cocktails need to have an irresistible flavor but with a recipe that can be made by any decent bartender anywhere. And the inspiration should be unique to the bartender who dreamed up the recipe.
The finalists from last year’s competition largely stood out because of the captivating stories behind their cocktails. Winner French Scotty Marshall named his Legacy cocktail—a mouthwatering mix of BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Ocho rum, toasted coconut syrup, lime juice and allspice dram—after Coki Beach, near where he was born during a category 5 hurricane.
Judge and 2018 Legacy winner French Scotty Marshall samples a submission.
The Washington, D.C., bartender showed such a deep understanding of Legacy that he was invited to Los Angeles as a judge for this year’s competition. “As a former Legacy competitor, it’s important to see the brand putting an equal amount of effort into judging and making the cocktails as I put into creating the Coki Beach and telling its story,” he said.
Marshall wasn’t overselling the amount of work that goes into sampling 190 unique recipes. Jason Bran of Los Angeles, CA. created 80 bespoke syrups so that each and every submission could be brought to life, exactly as its creator imagined it.
“By replicating the competitor’s recipes, we’re honoring their effort and talent,” said brand ambassador Juan Coronado. “We value our bartenders.”
The judges hard at work sipping cocktails poolside.
When the time came to sample the cocktails sitting poolside, Liquor.com reiterated what the judges should be looking for: “Is it balanced, original and does it showcase BACARDÍ rum?”
For 24 recipes, the answer was a resounding yes. Stay tuned to see who created the potentially timeless cocktails and will advance to the Liquor.com Legacy national finals in Puerto Rico.