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Bartender Ashley shakes up cocktail competition

Ashley Grant is headed to Jamaica to test her drink-making skills against top bartenders there.

She got the opportunity after she won the Stoli Cocktail Masters competition last week.

It was a surprise win for Miss Grant, a bartender at Harbourfront Restaurant she only learned the craft last summer.

“My boss signed me up,” she said. “I was really nervous at first going against nine other competitors. I was not as experienced as everyone else was. It turned out really good though. Winning was a big surprise.”

She was the last person in the competition to make her drink, and she felt a bit intimidated as everyone crowded around to watch her work.

“At work, I don’t get that feeling because it is not a bar like that,” she said. “People take their drinks back to the table. It was nerve-wracking having everyone around me, but when I was finished everyone clapped.”

She named her winning drink Sneak Attack. Mango liqueur, crème de cassis, ginger beer, orange and pineapple juice and grenadine made it seem harmless. And then she poured in the vodka.

The drink won in a blind taste test by three independent judges Cheri Simmons, Irving Raynor and Ben Fairn. Drinks were marked on presentation, originality and taste. Judges also considered whether the flavours worked well together and the time it took to make the drink.

They scored Miss Grant 77 out of a possible 90 points.

“I practised for about a week, so not long,” she said. “It was an orangey, fruity-looking drink. I practised in a bigger glass, so during the competition I made more than enough. Luckily, you don’t get penalised for that though. I included a pineapple, orange and cherry topping on the drink.”

The next phase of the competition will be held at the trendy Ocho Rios Resort in Jamaica. Contestants will receive tips from some master mixologists to help them win the $1,000 prize and a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada for yet another competition.

“I don’t yet know what I am going to do in Jamaica,” she said. “I will be nervous but will meet up with my bartending teacher again before I leave.”

She admitted that she wouldn’t normally drink the type of fruity concoction she made up for the competition.

“My favourite drink would be Chivas,” she said. “That’s scotch.”

As excited as she is about going to Jamaica in May, her ultimate goal is to qualify as an accountant. She said if she won, she might put the money towards her education.

“I haven’t decided yet, though,” she said.

Jonathan Smith from the Bistro at the Beach placed second, and Ryan Gibbons from Barracuda Grill placed third.

The competition was sponsored locally by Bristol Cellar which sells Stoli vodka.

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Published April 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 01, 2013 at 8:18 pm)

Bartender Ashley shakes up cocktail competition

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