Made With Love is back! Everyone’s favourite nationwide cocktail competition is seeking out Canada’s best bar chef once again. With regional qualifiers completed in major cities across the country, the field narrows further at upcoming regional finals.
The Ottawa contest is fast approaching on Monday, April 1st from 6-11 p.m. at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne where 18 of the nation’s capital’s finest bar chefs will compete for one of two coveted spots in the national finals.
If you haven’t heard of it, Made With Love is an annual celebration of craft cocktails wherein barchefs from across the country compete to create the most compelling and delicious drinks. The public, along with a panel of esteemed judges, are invited to participate in this interactive competition by savouring these inventive alcoholic concoctions and voting for their favourites.
The Ottawa qualifiers took place at Common Eatery back on February 4th and saw a field of 40 of Ottawa’s finest barchefs compete for the opportunity to advance to the regional finals. Now the group has been whittled down to 18 finalists who will face-off on April 1st for the opportunity to take home the crown of either Public’s Choice or Judges’ Choice and represent Ottawa in the National Finals.
I had the opportunity to chat with Quinn Taylor (pictured above) who finished second in the regional qualifiers.
As Quinn told me what she whipped up at the qualifiers and hinted at what she had in store for the regional finals, she concocted this beautiful smoked, obsidian cocktail for me – called “Camera Obscura.”
The qualifying round of competition involved a Chopped style black box of must-use ingredients. Competitors had only five minutes to plan and execute a delicious cocktail with the featured spirit and garnish found in their mystery box. Quinn wowed the judges with her on-the-fly creativity.
You might recognize Quinn from her time behind the beautiful brass bar at Riviera, or maybe you’ve seen her more recently crafting cocktails at Orto, or perhaps you had the rare privilege to visit her during her time at the Fogo Island Inn from August-December 2018.
Soon, Quinn will be taking the reins behind the bar at a forthcoming restaurant at 170 Preston Street. El Dorado will open in April and Quinn is curating a cocktail list that will feature a wide array of agave spirits, mezcal in particular – her drink of choice. She describes mezcal as a spirit that deserves to be explored – Del Maguey is one of her personal favourites.
Quinn will be joined behind the bar by another Made With Love competitor, Jordan Lang (who inched her out for top billing at the regional qualifiers), who will be bringing some Tiki flair to El Dorado. I’ll be running a profile of Jordan within the next week – stay tuned for that.
In terms of the food, Quinn tells me that diners can expect a diverse raw program featuring South American classics like ceviche and aguachile. We can also anticipate some innovative takes on the perennial favourite – tacos.
I got a sneak peak of the decor and it looks like the restaurant will be a true sensory experience – banquettes in bright green, Day of the Dead murals and a stylish curved bar. I look forward to seeing what Quinn comes up with in her new post.
In the meantime, I’ll be rooting for Quinn in the Made With Love Ottawa Regional Finals on April 1st in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne. Join me in sampling her craft cocktail, and 17 others, by getting your ticket ($65 in advance, $75 at the door) at: https://www.weezevent.com/made-with-love-2019-ottawa-regional-finals.
Quinn Taylor is one of 18 barchefs competing in the Made With Love Ottawa Finals. She came up with this moody, smoky bourbon cocktail.
- 1½ oz Woodford Reserve bourbon
- ½ oz Amaro Montenegro
- ¾ oz Casa Mariol Black Vermut
- Pinch of activated charcoal
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 strip orange peel
- Cedar chips
In a mixing glass, combine Woodford Reserve bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, Casa Mariol Black Vermut, pinch of activated charcoal and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Fill glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds.
Strain into a coupe glass. Flame the strip of orange peel as you express the citrus juices into the glass. Run the flamed peel around the inside of the rim. Discard orange peel.
Place cocktail in a smoking box and use a smoking gun filled with cedar chips to smoke the cocktail. Once box is filled with smoke, open and serve immediately.