Made With Love Toronto Regional Finals – 2018
This year, the 9th annual Made With Love brought Toronto’s best barchefs to a brand new venue: the Distillery District’s Fermenting Cellar. It was the perfect locale for an event that marries techniques both old and new.
Cocktail enthusiasts filled the space, each with their own strategy to get the most out of the event. Some choose what caught their eye, others went by region, and some by spirit.
I’ve always favoured a counterclockwise approach around the whole room. I’ll dart back at the end to get one more taste of my favourite, and give my vote to its creator.
The 2018 Toronto competitors were:
- Adam Karpowicz of BOUTIQUE BAR
- Josh Mellet of BARCHEF
- Matthieu Rajchman of SKIN+ BONES
- Michele Maffei of NOCE
- Chris Flink of BROADVIEW HOTEL
- Marian Walsh of WEST END SOCIAL
- Tyler Della-Nebbia of DOLLY’S MOJITO BAR
- Eric Carter of BORN AND RAISED
- Tony da Silva of BROADVIEW HOTEL
- Jillian Linton-Walsh of TWO BLACK SHEEP
- Nathanial Jai of LOPAN & DAILO
- Shanelle Munjal of TORONTO DRINK FACTORY
- Axl Gonzalez LOS COLIBRIS
- Harrison Lee of THE DIPLOMAT
- Albert Chan of NEAT
- Michael Long of DOOR FIFTY FIVE
- Luis Martinez of MAYRIK
- Julia Klara of THE CLOAK BAR
Each was assigned one of the sponsor spirits and the rest was left up to their creative genius.
There was no “easy” spirit to win – while Gin or Bourbon may seem more straightforward than Campari, they have their own challenges. The rum drink you craft is going to be compared to every other rum drink that the attendees have tried. No one could relax, and everyone brought their A game.
I love this event because every year I am surprised by something, be it a unique ingredient or unexpected pairing. It broadens my horizons and makes me even more eager to explore Toronto’s bar scene.
From the time that a competitor is given the nod, they have about a month to prepare. For some it almost felt like too much time (too easy to get overwhelmed by options), while for others it flew by.
We know that a person eats first with their eyes, so there was no shortage of fantastical displays.
A food pairing is optional, but a good one can go a long way to creating a winning experience. There were plenty of tasty bites to be found, which helped create incredible flavour experiences.
As Torontonians ate and drank their fill, the judges examined the offerings with gimlet eyes. Each barchef did a special presentation of their craft, and then watched nervously as the beverage was carried off to be examined, sampled, and assessed.
At the end of the night, the victors were crowned!
1. Axel Gonzalez – Los Colibris
2. Adam Karpowicz – boutique bar
3. Albert Chan – NEAT (My fav of the night!)
1. Harrison Lee – The Diplomat
2. Josh Mellet – Barchef
3. Michele Maffei – Noce Restaurant
Axel Gonzalez winning cocktail recipe: ALUX NAHUAL
Pear infused syrup
Egg white infused with peppercorn
Dehydrated pear with peppercorn sprinkle
Food pairing: Pear ceviche on a corn tostada
Harrison Lee winning cocktail recipe: Foreign Relations
Yuzu basic stock
French oak and Spice Hydrosol