Local bartender wins Caesar competition

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A bartender at Airdrie’s Sorso Espresso & Wine Bar was recently featured in The New York Times for winning first place in a province-wide Caesar competition.

London Richard won the annual Motts Best Caesar in Town competition at the Calgary Stampede grounds July 14, 2017, for his Caribbean-inspired Caesar served in a pineapple.

“I chopped off the top of the pineapple, poured it out and did more of a Caribbean-inspired (Caesar). So it had mango nectar in it, it was rum-based as opposed to the traditional vodka-based, it had Caribbean spices – so allspice, jerk seasoning, jerk sauce and then I made my own mango habanera hot sauce for it,” he said. “The Caesar is such a Canadian cocktail so I wanted to try to do something more branched out. I want the Caesar to be globally popular – I don’t think it should just be a Canadian cocktail.”

The inspiration came from his Caribbean background, he said, adding he’d like to create an Asian-inspired Caesar for next year’s competition.

Richard went on to participate in Motts Best Caesar in Town nationwide competition in Toronto Nov. 19, 2017, where he took home second place. He said he used the same recipe but tweaked it a little.

Richard has been bartending for 15 years and competing in various competitions for six. He said he enjoys the creativity that comes with the job.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said, adding he enjoys seeing what kind of creations others are coming up with at competitions for more inspiration.

Richard joined the team at Sorso Espresso & Wine Bar in October 2017 to help owner Dmitri Martini expand the menu and offer high-end cocktails.

“The majority of the cocktails are all classic 1920s to 1933 era drinks, like the negrontea, but we do our own modern twist to it since we have access to things like fresh tea leaves,” Richard said. “We’re not just a coffee shop.”

The Caesar that won Richard first place in Alberta isn’t available at Sorso Espresso & Wine Bar, but a variation of it is, he said.

Martini said his goal for the business is not only to be a coffee shop, but also an evening destination for Airdrie residents to enjoy food and alcoholic beverages, offering a downtown Calgary atmosphere close to home.

He said he is passionate about top quality food, wine and cocktails, and Richard has helped him reach his goals and vision for the business.

“That’s important to me – to have the best of everything available,” Martini said.

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