On January 29, 2017, Snow Leopard Vodka hosted its first annual Cocktail Quest in St. Louis, Missouri. The competition was hosted at ANEW, a venue that benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, and over 100 guests attended.
Attendees included bar managers, local influencers, industry experts, friends of the brand, and media personnel from ALIVE Magazine.
Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, a taco bar, dessert, mood-setting music from a DJ, a snow leopard ice luge, and an open bar. The main event was highlighting drink samples provided by our 14 competing bartenders. These bartenders came from St. Louis’s best bars and restaurants, including Cork & Barrel, Dressels, the Preston, Oceano Bistro, Scape, Wildflower, Retreat Gastropub, 1764, 801 Chophouse, and BBQ Saloon.
Each bartender created his or her own Snow Leopard Vodka cocktail for a chance to win a donation for their favorite charity. Many contestants found unique traits of Snow Leopards and aspects of their natural habitats to draw inspiration for their cocktails. Several cocktails incorporated ingredients that can be found in Central Asia, like Turkish honey, cumin, and yogurt. Another bartender used edible paper pawprints as a garnish. One of my favorite cocktails used the three steps it takes to get to the summit of a mountain, the snow leopards’ natural habitat, to create three different bases of their cocktail, and accordingly, named it the “Three Steps.”
Cocktails were judged on taste, creativity, presentation, and use of Snow Leopard Vodka. The first place award ended in a dramatic twist with a tie between Kira Webster, of the Preston, with “The Sonoma Leopard” and Joshua Johnson with “Panthera Unica.” The former was made with 1.5 oz. Snow Leopard Vodka, 0.5 oz. lemon juice, 0.25 oz. simple syrup, 0.5 oz. chardonnay, 1 dash bitters, a pinch of black pepper, and egg whites. Kira shook and double strained her cocktail, and then topped it with edible paw prints.
Joshua combined 1.5 oz. Snow Leopard Vodka, 0.5 oz. Cocchi Americano Blanc, 0.5 oz. peach liqueur, 2 drops of absinthe, and 2 dashes of lemon bitters to create Panthera Unica. He then stirred ingredients with ice, strained them into a coupe glass, and garnished the cocktail with a lemon twist.
Kira chose to donate her award to the International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis, and Joshua chose the Snow Leopard Trust.
After a lot of time and work spent on our passion project of nearly two months, the Snow Leopard team in St. Louis can proudly say that our first annual cocktail competition was a huge success. Friends and family, old and new, joined us for a night of exploring some of the best talents that the St. Louis food and beverage industry has to offer, and celebrating 6 months of Snow Leopard Vodka in St. Louis.