Cincinnati to Host USBG Lux Row Distillers Bourbon Battle Cocktail Competition

Cincinnatians have until May 8, midnight pacific time, to submit their concoctions and are required to use Lux Row Distillers-owned Ezra Brooks bourbon or Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon as their base

click to enlarge Ezra Brooks bourbon - Photo: Provided by USBG
Photo: Provided by USBG
Ezra Brooks bourbon

Bourbon is a singularly American iteration of whiskey with an especially storied history in Kentucky, where they’ve been commercially distilling the potent brown liquor since 1783. To legally distinguish itself from other varieties of whiskey, bourbon must be made in the USA, have a mix of grains containing at least 51 percent corn, and be aged in a charred new oak barrel.

While bourbon does not have a wide variety of grains to extract flavors from — it’s typically only made with malted barley and either rye or wheat, in addition to the prevailing presence of corn — it does offer the unique cocktail crafting challenge of highlighting a traditional taste while subsequently elevating it to previously unthought-of levels of potable pleasure.

If bourbon and bartending are steadily coursing through your blood, Lux Row Distillers and the United States Bartending Guild (USBG) are putting on their inaugural country-wide Bourbon Battle to put that love to the test.

The three-part competition has six semifinal events in six different cities, including Cincinnati, and asks mixologists to submit applications describing their best bourbon-based cocktail. Once applications have been submitted, 10 participants will be chosen by a USGB selection committee to compete in a live semifinal event. Semifinal winners will later get the chance to compete in the event’s championship during the 28th annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky in September.

Cincinnatians have until May 8, midnight pacific time, to submit their concoctions and are required to use Lux Row Distillers-owned Ezra Brooks bourbon or Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon as their base. USBG says, "The competition will focus on the battle between wheated versus ryed and how the different mash bills lend themselves to the cocktails."

No more than seven total ingredients are allowed, handmade ingredients are forbidden, and garnishes must be edible; the competition's rules clearly state: “Don’t underestimate the value of your garnish.”

Semifinal competitors will be expected to bring their own ingredients, bar utensils, including glassware, and a batching container holding at least 50 fluid ounces of their premade cocktail so the audience may sample the creation along with a panel of four judges. Each mixologist gets seven minutes to create four identical cocktails, which the judges will then grade on appearance, aroma, taste, creativity and their overall impression of the drink. The scores for each category are added up to determine the winner.

A small selection of judges may decide the ultimate bourbon boss, but the people in attendance also get to crown a crowd favorite cocktail; so even if you don’t advance to the grand finale, you may get the satisfaction that those snooty judges don’t know what real bourbon drinkers like anyway.

Find rules and regulations here and an application here.