The Taste of Cayman Food & Drink Festival, held Jan. 28 on the Festival Green, Camana Bay, featured a number of competitions that ran through the day and into the evening.

The Seven Fathoms Cayman Rum Challenge, previously restricted to only local competitors, expanded to include international competitors for the first time this year.

U.S. heats

In early 2016, mixology contests were held in Miami, Chicago and New York, where top bartenders from each city competed to put together their best cocktail using Cayman’s own Seven Fathoms Rum. “It was interesting to watch these amazing bartenders bring their vision of a Cayman cocktail to life, sourcing ingredients like mangos, sea grapes, scotch bonnets and more in the U.S.,” says Nelson Dilbert from Cayman Spirits Co. “Someone even made a Swanky-themed cocktail!”

The winning contestants from each city won a trip to Cayman to compete in the finals, courtesy of competition partners Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways and the Kimpton Seafire Resort.

Local heats

Here in Cayman, local bartenders competed in a qualifying round at the King’s Head pub in Camana Bay. The top five participants were selected by a panel of judges who sent them on to compete in the finals at Taste of Cayman.

At the contest on Jan. 28, the atmosphere was electric as contestants prepared their drinks. The judges selected the top three, which were then brought back on stage. At that point, emcees Joey Avery and Kathy Miller revealed the secret ingredient: local starfruit. Each contestant then had 15 minutes to create a drink using the starfruit and Seven Fathoms Rum.

Winning formula

When all was said and done, and the last cocktail had been sipped and dissected, Sabrina Kudic from Trench Bar in Chicago took the title, with Micah Jensen of the Kimpton Seafire and Valerie Balignasay from Barolo rounding out the top three spots.

“We are very pleased with the results from this year’s international competition and we are looking forward to expanding it even further next year,” says Dilbert.

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