USBGLV Food Truck Cocktail Wars -Competitor Spotlight!
What are you most excited about with this event?
“I’ve never had better barbecue in my life than from Chef Mike Minor’s TruckU Barbeque so I’m super excited to try to eat as much of it as I can before the customers get to it. Just kidding! But I’m really excited to be working with such a talented Chef. My most significant bartending experience comes from working at The Empire, a gourmet Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in downtown Portland, Maine. There I got to play around with some unique asian fruits and traditional cooking ingredients as well as to hone my cocktail creation skills. But mostly I’m just a huge nerd and always have my nose in a book or am experimenting in a secret cocktail lab I share with my colleague Wan Requena.”
What is your game plan?
“I’ve been communicating with Chef Mike since we were introduced for the competition. We did a really productive tasting and cocktail experimentation meeting in person where we played around with different recipe and proportion ideas I had before settling on a mesquite smoke and apricot driven flavor profile. Early on we decided to go with his brisket sopa in a corm masa bowl as the dish and I created the cocktail around that and the base spirit.Strategy wise, the cocktail compliments the smokey, sweet, and slightly herbal (cilantro/mint) qualities in the dish with the mesquite and mint infused bourbon and deliciously rich apricot liqueur. Simultaneously, it contrasts the dish’s flavors and sweetness with acidic lemon and bitter amaro to give the pairing balance. The cocktail is also designed to dynamically change in sweetness over time, by using a sweet, smoked pomegranate juice ice cube. This compensates for the decrease in sweetness in the dish as one moves from the brisket on top to the lime soaked corn masa bowl on the bottom. I tried to think 4 dimensionally about the cocktail pairing-not only its composition and physical appearance, but its taste over time compared to the dish.”
(Chef Mike Minor of TruckU Barbeque)
What would be the biggest challenge with food & cocktail pairings?
“My favorite part of the competition is the intellectual challenge to create something relatively unique while constrained to the parameters of using only the base spirit and having it pair perfectly with the dish – that and having an excuse to sip delicious cocktails while chowing down on some smoked brisket. Life is hard sometimes.”
Tell me about the spirit that you will be utilizing?
The spirit I’ll be using is WoodFord Reserve’s signature product: a Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The spirit is a great standard bearer for artisinal Bourbon. Everything is carefully cultivated from the mineral rich, iron free, limestone filtered water, to their proprietary yeast, to the proportions of grain that go into mash. This bourbon is 72% corn giving it a warmer, rounder character, but this is also balanced by a relatively high amount of rye at 18% that gives it a sharper, spicier note. When tasting the bourbon for notes that would pair well with the barbecue dish, I got hints of smoke, charcoal, oak, and stonefruit. For the cocktail I decided to play off the smoke and went with apricot to match the stonefruit. At 45.2% alcohol, the bourbon is also hotter than most other bourbons or commercial spirits. I had to compensate for this with the lemon, amaro, and mint to round out the nose and back end of the cocktail.”