Here in the Maxim office, we like a good competition. (We like to compete for best pot luck, best fantasy drafts, best Tough Mudder...) But even more than we like a good competition, we LOVE a good sauce. And we think the best sauce is the Sriracha.
You know... the rooster stuff.
The ketchuppy-chile-what-is-this-magic sauce.
The Grand Puba of hot sauces.
The master chief of condiments.
So we decided to combine our love of the red stuff with our passion for beating the snot out of each other. Things got spicy. Check it out.
The Contestants (from left): Senior Editor Laura Leu, Research Chief Christian Smith, Senior Associate Editor Stephanie Radvan, Copy Chief Ken Gee, and Digital Assistant Editor Cameron Berkman
The Judges (from left): Maxim CTO Mike Le Du, U.S. Bartenders' Guild NY President and The Dead RabbitMixologist Pamela Wiznitzer, Little BranchMixologist Nevada Caldwell, and Silver Linings Mixologist Matt Clark
1. The cocktail does not need to have a base of Sriracha, but it must be a starring element.
2. The cocktail must have alcohol.
3. It must be made in the time allotted.
4. It does not need to be a one-of-a-kind brainchild recipe, but it cannot be a stolen word-for-word recipe either.
A perfect score is 40.
Contestants were judged on PRESENTATION, TASTE, CREATIVITY, and the NAME of the drink.
Contestants had 10 minutes to put together their creation. If they went over this time limit, 5 points were deducted.
LET THE MIXING BEGIN:
FIRST UP: CAMERON
The Cocktail: The Perplexed Rooster
Muddle cucumber and mint with honey. Add ice, bourbon, lemon juice, Sriracha, and stir. Pour over ice, top with club soda and garnish with a mint lead and a cucumber spear.
The judges loved the name of the cocktail and Cameron's presentation, but felt that ultimately, the drink was a little too watered down. Sad day for Camsy.
"I tried to make the drink refreshing, but it seems like I made it TOO refreshing. It was a lot of fun and I'm totally not insanely bitter and angry to the point of grinding my teeth down to the nerve. Fun!"
UP NEXT: CHRISTIAN
Michael Aram Molten Martini shaker
The Cocktail: My Thai Mai Tai
Ingredients (serves 4):
A bunch of mint leaves
1 cup white rum
1/4 cup of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
A total of 12 drops of sriracha (three per serving)
Regatta Ginger Beer
3 Thai chili peppers
Fresh ginger root
Two days before the contest Christian, chopped up three Thai chili peppers, about two inches of fresh ginger, and 10-20 mint leaves, and let them steep in it. He cut the a pineapple in half, hollowed each half out, chopped the fruit up and put it in the fridge. Then he filled the shells half full with chopped ice and set in the freezer.
On the day of the contest, he loaded the following into a shaker:
About 6 pieces of pineapple, muddled
12 mint leaves, muddled
1 cup rum
1/4 cup of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
Juice from 1 lime, freshly squeezed (cut the lime in half and save rind for presentation)
A total of 12 drops of Sriracha (three per serving)
Then he shook and divided between the two pineapple halves, topped off with Regatta Ginger Beer (canned is better than bottled). Then he stirred, and floated the lime rind upside down so it looked like an island, and served each half with two straws, to share.
Score: 31.78 / 40
Christian was very calculated and prepared with his cocktail, but with about two minutes left in the prep time, he remembered that he left out a very crucial element with his cocktail: the sriracha! He quickly added some drops to his concoction, but it didn't seem to be enough.
"Overall they were nice to me but I served two of them a terrible drink. I forgot to put sriracha in the shaker so I had to stir it in at the last second. Apparently someone got a sip that was straight sriracha, which is gross and embarrassing."
NEXT UP: KEN
The Cocktail: Spicy Summer Sangracha
1 cup Pinnacle Caramel Apple vodka
1 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 cup simple syrup
2 Tbs. Sriracha sauce
Fruit, such as apple slices, lime or orange wedges, and grapes
Stir first four ingredients together in a pitcher. Add fruit and let sit in fridge for half an hour. Pour over ice in Collins glasses, top with club soda, stir, and serve.
Score: 23.95 / 40
The judges loved Ken's enthusiasm and the sweet taste of the drink, but overall they thought the name fell short and the Sriracha wasn't properly highlighted with the flavors.
"At least two judges said 'Thanks for the snacks,' referring to the apples and other fruit in my drink, by way of telling me my drink sucked hard."
The Cocktail: 99 Problems And A Peach Ain't One
3 oz. Peach puree*
1 oz. Basil simple syrup**
2 oz. Bourbon
10 drops Sriracha
Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of basil and peach slice.
*Peach puree: First peel the peaches by cutting a shallow X on the pointy ends of the peaches and dropping them in a pot of boiling water for 45 seconds. Take them out and submerge them in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Once the peaches have cooled, you should be able to easily peel off the skin. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, and puree them in a food processor or blender until smooth.
**Basil simple syrup: In a saucepan, heat 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and a whole bunch of basil until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and let it steep for an hour or so. Strain.
Score: 34.38 / 40
The judges loved Laura's name for her drink, the beautiful presentation, the creativity, and the flavors. They said it was missing one thing though: more booze! They said there needed to be much more bourbon to complement the Sriracha and peach effectively.
"One of the judges said they'd serve my cocktail at their bar! I didn't really get any BAD negative comments, other than it could have been a little stronger."
SOMEONE is a little confident.
LAST UP: STEPHANIE
The Cocktail: The Summer Swarm
Fill a shaker with crushed ice, two shots of Hendricks, juice of about one lemon, a big spoonful of honey, and five squirts of Sriracha. Shake it up, serve in a martini glass, and garnish with a cucumber (Stephanie didn't have enough time for that).
Score: 26.58 / 40
Since Stephanie went last (note: she had the first pick of which slot and she chose last), her drink was watered down by ice. The judges also wished she had time to add the cucumber, which they thought would have added to the flavor profile of the drink.
"The judges told me mine was a spin on a classic cocktail called The Bee's Knees but they also made it apparent that my concoction was very far from being 'the bee's knees.' My excuse for my exceptionally crappy performance is a combination of three things: the time restriction in terms of chopping things, juicing lemons, etc., my lack of upper arm strength to open my cocktail shaker, and having to serve my drink last, which made it water down."