Tobin Ellis’ Cachaça-Driven Tipple Wins Hearts and Palates at Beverage Tradeshow
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Leblon

Keynote speaker Sarah Palin couldn’t hold WSWA ( attendees’ attention like Tobin Ellis ( did when he introduced his award winning drink, The Brazillionaire, at the show’s first ever libation challenge.

Ellis’ cocktail, which features Leblon cachaça (made of pressed sugar cane that then rests in XO cognac casks) was named “Judges Choice” Winner at the First Annual WSWA Call for Cocktails: Mixology Competition held at the 67th Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) Convention in Las Vegas on April 8, 2010.

BarMagic Principal Tobin Ellis has 20 years of bartending, hospitality, and nightlife experience. Currently running the wildly popular Social Mixology industry event, Ellis began training bartenders in 1991 and also spent six years in advertising in New York and Washington, D.C. A former President of the Flair Bartenders’ Association, Head Bartender for Caesars Palace (Las Vegas), NSO Bar Trainer for TGI Friday’s, Ellis is a 3-time Mixology Champion (2009 USBG Leblon Caipirinha Competition, 2009 Tales of the Cocktail Barmade Bitters Winner, 2005 Blue Blazer Mixology Champion) and a 9-Time World Finalist in competition (Legends, Quest, Best in the West, Blue Blazer, Cayman Masters). Ellis has organized and judged bartending competitions of all styles all over the world since 1997 and has served as a technical advisor and judge for a number of television networks, including A&E, Travel Channel, Food Network and NBC.

His winning cocktail combined Leblon Cachaça (, Cherry Heering (, Perfect Purée of Napa Valley passion fruit purée (, fresh lime sour, fresh cilantro leaves and sriracha sauce.

Leblon Brazillionaire
By Tobin Ellis

1½ oz Leblon Cachaça
¾ oz Cherry Heering
1 oz Perfect Purée Passion Fruit Concentrate
1½ oz Fresh Lime Sour (3:2 ratio of fresh lime to simple syrup)
8-10 Fresh Cilantro Leaves
2 drops Sriracha Sauce

Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim (The Modern Mixologist – served as executive director of competition and lead a panel of judges comprised of fellow bartenders and cocktail experts from across the U.S. that included Jonathan Pogash (Mixologist, The Cocktail Guru, New York –, Meridith May (Publisher, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles –, Kent Bearden (Master Mixologist, MGM Grand, Las Vegas –, Joe Brooke (Director of Spirits, The Edison, Los Angeles –, Jeffrey Morgenthaler (Bar Manager, Clyde Common, Portland –, Aidan Demarest (First and Hope, Los Angeles and Partner, Demarest Liquid Assets –, Jim Romdall (Mixologist, Vessel, Seattle –, Marcos Tello (Partner, Tello Demarest Liquid Assets, Los Angeles –, Alex Velez (Mixologist, Crescent Gaming and Bartending School, Las Vegas – and Ann Tuennerman (Founder, Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans – The competition was sponsored by The Tasting Panel Magazine.

***Editor’s note: Though WSWA cocktail competition winner Tobin Ellis lives in the city that operates onlthe theory that winner takes all he refused to take all the credit for the win. Instead, after reading this story, he insisted that his fellow bartenders who inspired him be recognized. He tells us, “Although I subscribe to the popular notion “there are no new ideas” in the sense there are very few “new” cocktail recipes, I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to Richie P. and the bar team at the W South Beach who first turned me onto the base flavor profile from which I ended up at the “Brazillionaire” (Passionfruit, Cherry Heering, and Sriracha). The Brazillionaire is a riff off of the W’s “Hot Mess.” I only added fresh cilantro, changed the garnish, tweaked the proportions, and used Leblon as the base spirit. There are a lot of talented bartenders in South Beach, many of whom have been very generous to share recipes, ideas, techniques, etc. and I’m grateful for their willingness to do so. This is a Vegas/Miami win, a team effort!