Viva Sangrita!: The Second Annual Rooftop Cocktail Fiesta

The second annual Viva Sangrita cocktail competition is upon us. On June 17th from 2:30 – 4:30p.m. on the Linger rooftop (2030 W. 30th St.) Tequila Ocho and The Bon Vivants present the Colorado regional finals for the national event. Tequila Ocho’s artisan agave spirits reflect the authenticity of the Mexican culture from which they hail – and what celebrates the love of Mexico better than a fiesta?

Credit: The Bon Vivants

Credit: The Bon Vivants

¿Que es sangrita? Sangrita is a complex non-alcoholic beverage originally found in Jalisco, Mexico, as an accompaniment to its homeland brother – tequila. It has a huge flavor profile that matches perfectly with the layers of flavor in artisan tequilas. Traditionally the beverage consisted of pomegranate juice, lime juice and dried chili powder. Today’s recipes have evolved a bit, and most modern versions contain tomato juice. The complexities of flavors in sangrita bring out subtle nuances in tequila that may not be detected with the pairing, and tequila promotes sangrita in the same way. Jalisco today holds true to this tradition, and continues to present tequila with house-crafted sangrita.

Tequila Ocho is single-estate tequila that celebrates the uniqueness of each expression produced. Tequila Ocho has nine agave fields and harvests from one field per year. Each field has a varying combination of elevation, temperature variation, microclimate as well as other elements that impact the agaves. Since production always remains the same the differences in expressions of Tequila Ocho come from the differences in these fields. Tequila Ocho’s love for complexities and subtle differences between vintages makes for the perfect marriage with sangrita.

Credit: The Bon Vivants

Credit: The Bon Vivants

In preparation for the event, competitors were allowed to choose any expression of Tequila Ocho available in the United States, and create a sangrita recipe to compliment that tequila.

“The idea with creating the Tequila Ocho event was to show that while sangrita is still traditional, like tequila, the possibility of flavor profiles throughout different recipes are endless,” states Nick Touch, attaché at The Bon Vivants and event host. “We want people to taste these tequilas critically and think about the terroir and the elevation and where these agaves are grown and why what comes in to that bottle happened.”

Denver is one of eight participating cities across the nation, and out of seventeen entries, eight made the cut and will be competing in Denver on June 17th. In addition to overall flavor, judges will be looking at how much effort and thought went into the recipes, uniqueness of ingredients, knowledge concerning the tequila and justification of pairing.

Credit: The Bon Vivants

Credit: The Bon Vivants

Last year, Hawaii-native Allison Widdecombe wowed audiences with tropical sangrita flavored with red bell pepper, passion fruit jam, ginger and garnished her beverage with Thai chili pepper and a mango slice. Widdecombe’s impressive knowledge concerning her chosen tequila and her eerily pairing of flavors were what set her above her competition.

“It was the feeling you get down your back and through your whole body when you have a perfect bite of food and then sip a perfect wine and it set something off,” said Touch. “And that was hers.”

Allison Widdecombe (Photo © Erin Edmondson)

Allison Widdecombe (Photo © Erin Edmondson)

At this free event bartenders are set up with batches of their sangrita, plenty of their chosen tequila and lots of tasting cups for sharing. Booths are decorated by competitors, and last year’s decorations included woven Mexican blankets, ingredients found in recipes, sombreros and piñatas.

During the event, competitors are allowed an opportunity to present their entries to the judges, discuss their process and respond to questions by the judges. This year’s winner is the recipient of $1,000 toward travel expenses for Tales of the Cocktail to compete in the final round of Viva Sangrita. The winner will also join The Bon Vivants on a trip to Arrandas, Jalisco, Mexico to visit La Alteña and Tequila Ocho.

This is guaranteed to be the cocktail fiesta of the summer, so come sample unique combinations of tequila and sangrita, talk with the bartenders, dance to music spun by the DJ and enjoy free cold beer and tacos.

Credit: The Bon Vivants

Credit: The Bon Vivants