Treadway pours ‘Emotion in a Glass’
One of the perks for a "professional" bartender is access to a network of industry insiders and tastemakers. That cute 20-something who pulls beers and thinks a quality cocktail is something strong enough to elicit an extra dollar in her tip bucket? She's probably not connected.
For the Waikiki EDITION's Sam Treadway, however, the dedication to his craft has presented opportunities he never even realized he was interested in. Case in point: Russian Standard Vodka's "Emotion in a Glass" bartender competition.
At first, Treadway was only interested in the contest as a means to an end.
"I was really geared up to find a competition to get me a free trip to 'Tales of the Cocktail,' a national cocktail convention," he explained. "It's an crazy awesome party. I was entering all the competitions that had that as a prize."
But once he bagged the prize he was after in another, unrelated bartending competition — and it was announced he was also a top five finalist in the Russian Standard contest — his focus changed to taking a trip to the former Soviet Union.
"That's one place in the world I would never go on my own," said Treadway with a laugh. "But hell yeah, if someone's paying, I'll go!"
The joking stopped, however, once our conversation turned to serious talk about what it takes to concoct a winning cocktail. Treadway's last stop before Honolulu was Boston, where he worked at a cocktail lounge that offered a unique twist to the ordering process.
"They were really cocktail-focused, (using) really fresh ingredients and great products, but there's no cocktail menu there," he said. "So you walk in … and just start a conversation.
"Two years of working that job, you definitely learn … to come up with drinks creatively in the moment. It's a great training for competition. I've gotten a great sense of what flavors work and those that don't."
The Russian Standard competition intrigued Treadway because it didn't require any specific ingredients besides the sponsored liquor, and all entries would be judged based on the emotion they were trying to convey. He picked "exhiliration" and got to work, drawing inspiration from an activity most of us have experienced at one time or another in life.
"It was the middle of my day off and I was excited about going out that night, so I came up with 'exhiliration' as my emotion," he said. "In my head, exhiliration was getting excited, getting pumped up for a night out. So the cocktail I came up with was light and refreshing, something you could sip on in the late afternoon or early evening. It gets your palate excited about what you're going to eat and drink the rest of the night.
"That's kind of what I love about bartending — the creative aspect of it. I'm always coming up with drinks for people who come in. I have a really nice menu at Lobby Bar, but sometimes people tell me just to do whatever. I'll play around and come up with something, or I'll use one of my recipes."
Want to try your hand at mixing Treadway's drink? The recipe is below. He'll find out Monday if he's won the grand prize trip to Russia, plus a feature in Food & Wine Magazine that showcases his cocktail.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam Treadway's 'Exhiliration'
Russian Standard "Emotion in a Glass" finalist
» 1 1/2 ounce Russian Standard Vodka
» 1 1/2 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
» 3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
» 1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
» 1 dash Bitter Truth celery bitters
» 5 mint leaves
Lightly muddle mint in the bottom of your mixing glass. Add all ingredients except for champagne. Shake with ice. Double strain into a crushed ice filled Collins glass. Top with about an ounce of champagne. Serve with a straw and garnish with a grapefruit twist and a sprig of mint.