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America’s Top Bartender

America’s Top Bartender
Posted on : Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Words : JB / Amanda G
Editorial Type : Review
Related to : NightLife
Posted by

History is never kind to its losers, and years down the line, when we look back at the series finale of LXTV’s ‘On The Rocks', its doubtful that we’ll remember runner-up Graham Kimura as anything more than that.

Reflecting on the series’ final episode, all I can say is that Graham shot himself in the foot and only has himself to blame for losing the $100,000 cash prize. But before we get into that, lets talk about the parameters of the season finale. The bartenders were poolside at MGM Grand’s lavish Wet Republic in Las Vegas for a one on one showdown between Graham, and Las Vegas based bartending newcomer Amanda Gager. To commemorate the newest flavor in Absolut’s portfolio, Absolut Mango, the two finalists were challenged with creating the first Absolut Mango signature cocktail. Not such a pressing task, except for the fact that they only had fifteen minutes to do it.

Never one to be understated, Graham redundantly informed us that. “If I win this $100,000, it will be the biggest tip of my career.” Oh really Graham? I didn’t already assume that, because I thought that at one point maybe somebody showed up to your bar and handed you $100,001 in cash for passing them a Malibu Bay Breeze.

The two bartenders feverishly worked at creating their idea of what the Absolut Mango cocktail should be, albeit in very different ways. Amanda went with a fairly straightforward mixture consisting of the Absolut Mango, Cointreau, peach nectar, agave nectar, fresh lemon, sage leaves, and a splash of ginger beer. This led to a refreshing, tropical result which predictably complemented the vodka’s citrus flavors. On the other hand, Graham sought to walk the unbeaten path, and went with an unorthodox chocolate, raspberry, and mango cocktail.

To me, the contest was already over before the judges (who included New York Nightlife legend Fabrizio Brienza among their ranks) took their first sip. Amanda was hard at work mixing her ingredients, which may not have been very entertaining, but it was efficient. At the same time, the flashy Graham was showboating for the cameras, rolling the mixer back and forth across his arms, when all of a sudden he paid for his showiness when it fell and shattered on the floor, forcing him start over. To his credit, he didn’t let this setback rattle him, and he recovered to finish making his cocktail before time was up. The judges enjoyed both drinks, but when all was said and done, they picked Amanda as America’s top bartender.

Let this serve as a lesson about hubris: The inexperienced Amanda was able to cause an upset and win the $100,000 because of the indisputably more talented Graham’s misguided overconfidence (and perhaps because the gods of bartending were punishing him for the foolish-looking bandana that he amazingly insisted on wearing, despite being well aware that this show was televised).

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