Denver has some of the best bartenders in the country. Five of them recently met up at Bar Fausto to compete for a free trip to Philadelphia in the Naked Grouse Cocktail Competition. With that much talent at the casually elegant bar, it took an absolutely stunning cocktail to stand out.
That’s exactly what Cheyenne Haggard created with her original recipe, the Seeking the Rose. The irresistible and floral flavor was enough to impress the judges. But the story behind the recipe is what sealed her victory.
The judges enjoy the Seeking the Rose, while Haggard, left, shares the inspiration for it.
The Naked Grouse Cocktail Competition tasked bartenders with creating a recipe inspired by a naked moment, meaning the times when the bartenders are their most real, authentic self. Haggard instantly thought of all the hours she has spent in gardens or looking for flowers.
“My grandmother taught me the importance of a garden,” says Haggard. “Ever since I was 10, I have always cared for some form of plants, flowers, vegetables or trees.”
Appropriately, Haggard adds a few rose petals as a garnish.
The Seeking the Rose cocktail features notes of fruit and flowers—two items you’ll find in any good garden—from bergamot juice and crème de rose, which help bring out the complexity in Naked Grouse scotch whisky and sweet oloroso cream sherry. The way it flawlessly comes together proves that the cocktail is a winner in both inception and execution.
The name itself comes from a recent development in Haggard’s life. “Moving into a small apartment in Denver, I’ve found it difficult to continue to grow my flowers, particularly roses, so I seek them out instead,” she says.
Haggard wasn’t the only bartender to make a splash in the competition. Chelsea Mahoney’s beautiful cocktail made her the Crowd Favorite Winner.
Chelsea Mahoney pours the Crowd Favorite Winner.
However, given the effusive praise from the judges and her engaging story, everyone in attendance could see why Haggard deserved to win the trip to Philadelphia. Her recipe summed up what the Naked Grouse Cocktail Competition is all about.
“I’m feeding my authentic self on summer days when I’m hunting for flowers,” says Haggard. “Sometimes it’s wildflowers in the rockies or just a rose in the city. My naked happiness comes from finding a hidden flower when I’m seeking the rose.”
The crowd cheers on as a surprised Haggard reacts to her victory.
Hopefully she found some roses in Philadelphia. Then again, she can always create that flavor with her winning recipe.