How every spirit out there is “the best”
By Francine Cohen

Photo courtesy of ShakeStir

There’s a saying that lots of single women in their 30s are told by loving friends and grandmothers when the whining begins about not yet having found Mr. Right. Patience is advised because someday their prince will come; he has to, because, as the saying goes, “there’s a lid for every pot.”

Just as there’s hope for single girls everywhere, so too is there hope for every bottle in your inventory. A lid for every pot, a drink for every spirit- it’s essentially the same thing.

The trick is understanding that rather than getting all wrapped up in proclaiming “brand x is ‘best'” and eschewing any out of the proscribed parameters some exploration is worth some of your time.

Being more open minded to the application of spirits you may have turned your nose up at can mean the difference between foisting a drink on a guest they find disgusting and creating a cocktail that wins you a regular.

What’s disgusting is narrow mindedness behind a bar; it’s just not hospitable. Or good for business. Dan Udell, who’s in the gin business courtesy of his position as Global Brand Manager at Bulldog Gin(, recognizes that his gin doesn’t go into every drink. He notes, “Different cocktails are best made with certain gins. A great mixologist/bartender knows the botanical make up of all gins at his disposal and will select the right gin to enhance its particular flavor profile.”

On the non-alcoholic side of things it is also true that reaching for your favorite ingredient may not be the right move every time. Michele Lex, Director of Marketing at The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley (, explains, “At The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, our flavor line-up is diverse enough to compliment the variety of spirits on the market today. We embrace all categories – vodka, tequila, gin, whiskey, etc. – and all brands. However, with a goal of being complimentary to the spirit flavor, not dominant, we recognize that not every one of our flavors always works well with every spirit. For example, rums are enhanced by our tropical flavors, vodka and gin play well with our berry purees and Beverage Artistry line, and sparkling wine can benefit from almost our entire flavor line-up.”

Many spirit brands are lining up to enter competitions that prove they are the best. They spend time and money to be evaluated and then like to promote the accolades draped upon them in competition. Nothing drives this home more than the multitude of entries into the annual Ultimate Cocktail Challenge(, a competition that embodies the “there’s something for everyone but this one might be just the right fit for you theory.”

Nobody knows this better than Ultimate Challenge partners Paul Pacult and David Talbot. Pacult comments, “Ultimate Cocktail Challenge is like no other cocktail competition in the world. In my eyes, it’s the truest test, the most accurate measurement of spirits in cocktails because it evaluates the actual performance in cocktails.” Talbot adds, “What gin wouldn’t want to be known as the finest gin for a Dry Martini by the most authoritative judging panels in the world?”

You’re an authority in your own bar, understanding what liquid tools you have at your disposal. Success is finding just the right fit, and marrying them harmoniously.

***This story first ran on on 6/6/2012.