Symrise recently held our first annual cocktail contest for mixologists across the United States. Vodkaland 2013 featured a chance for mixologists and bartenders from around the country to win $3,000 worth of bartending equipment and supplies.

Contestants were asked that their cocktails feature vodka as the central spirit. There were three thematic categories that the contestants could enter. The categories included Candyland, Nature, and Futuristic White.

Contestants were asked to submit their recipe with ingredients, mixing instructions and a picture of their completed cocktails to Symrise. Symrise then narrowed down multiple entries to six finalists who were invited to the House of Blues in Chicago this past July to make their cocktail live and compete for the grand prize. The Vodkaland finals took place on July 14, 2013 at the House of Blues in Chicago during Symrise’s customer event at the annual IFT conference. Entertainment at the event included a performance by Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, a DJ, food and drinks, and much more.

A panel of judges consisting of Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef, an editor with Chilled Magazine and senior executives from prestigious spirits companies tasted the contestants’ drinks. They were judged on multiple criteria including creativity, overall taste, mouthfeel, and difficulty.

Overall, the six finalists presented some very interesting and creative cocktails with an array of ingredients and vodkas. New York, Miami, and Boise, ID were some of the cities represented by finalists. Mark Baldini from Denver, CO was the winner of the grand prize with his drink “The Raz Beret” consisting of raspberry, thyme, juniper, and blood orange, amongst other ingredients.

Check out a full video wrap-up of the event HERE.

Catch up on the event with our Pinterest board photo wrap-up HERE.

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