RIVER NORTH — Liz Pearce is one crafty cocktailer.
The mixologist at River North's soon-to-open The Drifter was crowned Chicago's "most imaginative" bartender last week at the regional finals for the international "Most Imaginative Bartender" competition.
Hosted by the U.S. Bartenders Guild and sponsored by Bombay Sapphire gin, the annual competition pits bartenders from around the globe against each other in a timed mix-off.
Lizzie Schiffman says that Pearce is a bartender who can do it all:
Cocktails are judged by a panel of experts in a blind taste test, and bartenders from around the world are whittled down into an elite group of just over a dozen competitors, each representing a different country.
Pearce's winning concoction, called "Spicy in the Front," took top honors at the regional qualifying competition, held at IO Urban Roofscape, for the eighth annual contest. It combines Bombay Sapphire gin with Giffard Banana Liqueur and Pearce's specially made Thai syrup, and earned her a perfect score in the categories of appearance, aroma, imagination and taste.
On Sept. 8, Pearce will head to Las Vegas to compete for the national title of America's Most Imaginative Bartender and fight to qualify for the 2015 Global Finals next summer. It'll be a whirlwind month for the Henri and The Gage alum, whose 10-seat cocktail bar is also set to open that month.
Last week, Pearce called the title an "absolute honor."
"To be able to compete alongside some of the most talented bartenders across the nation is something very few will have a chance to do, and I'm looking forward to seeing how far I can go against the best of the best," Pearce said in a statement. “I've worked harder than you can imagine to get where I am and I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity."
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