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Brighton man wins national home-made cocktail contest; drink to be served at Food & Wine Classic

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  June 6, 2012 05:02 PM

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Brighton resident Eric Witz will travel to the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic in Colorado this month after winning a national home-made cocktail competition sponsored by pomegranate liqueur brand PAMA.

The "Arnold PAMA" drink
Witz’ concoction, the “Arnold PAMA,” will be served to thousands of event-goers. The recipe beat out more than 200 entries submitted to PAMA’s national “Home Bar Star” contest, according to an announcement from the liqueur brand.

“’The Arnold PAMA’ is my play on the traditional half-lemonade/half-iced tea summer cooler,” Witz wrote in a statement posted to the company’s website, explaining that his recipe is modified from the drink named after the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.

Participants in the competition were asked, starting in late February, to submit a recipe and photo of an original cocktail. The submissions were judged based on “originality/creativity, unique use of PAMA, ingredient combination and appropriateness of the cocktail name,” the brand said in an announcement.

Company judges narrowed the field to a top 25. Those submissions were posted to the company’s website and Facebook page for fan voting.

The top 10 vote-getting drinks were tested by a panel of three judges: Kate Krader, restaurant editor for Food & Wine Magazine, Darryl Robinson host of the Cooking Channel’s “Drink Up!” and Eben Freeman, a mixologist and PAMA spokesperson.

In early April, Witz’ entry was crowned the winner.

He and a guest will travel to the wine and food event in Asepn, Colo. for free courtesy of the Kentucky-based liqueur maker, which will provide Witz with $2,000 in spending money.

About 5,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Food &Wine Classic from June 15 through 17. The weekend-long event features demonstrations, wine tastings, interactive seminars, panel discussions, and tastings. Tickets, which are now sold out, cost between $1,125 and $1,225 each, depending on when they were purchased.

Among the chefs and winemakers expected to attend and lead cooking seminars and demonstrations, are: Mario Batali, Giada DeLaurentiis, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer, Jacques Pépin, Michael Symon and Ming Tsai.

“Eric’s recipe, The Arnold PAMA, was truly a great entry,” the liqueur brand said in post on its blog. “Judging was close throughout the competition, though Eric’s creativity, unique use of PAMA, ingredient combination and recipe name choice won over our fans and judges.”

Witz could not immediately be reached for comment this week. In his statement on the company website he explains that his recipe is a “deconstructed” version of the Arnold Palmer drink that consists of an equal mixture of iced tea and lemonade.

Witz’ “Arnold PAMA” recipe calls for “using fresh lemon instead of lemonade and a rich, smoky tea syrup in place of iced tea,” he wrote. “Rye lends a bold, spicy backbone that allows the sweet-tart pomegranate liqueur to shine. Batavia Arrack’s soft smoky rum flavor complements the smokiness of the tea and plays well against the tart, fresh fruit of the PAMA. Peychaud's bitters add subtle floral/herbal warmth, and the pink color seemed a natural fit for the ruby hue of the PAMA. I hope you enjoy sipping it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Cheers!”


The "Arnold PAMA" recipe
1.5 oz. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
.75 oz. PAMA Liqueur
.75 oz. Batavia Arrack van Oosten
.75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
.50 oz. Lapsang Souchong Tea Syrup*
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Combine and shake well with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon.

*Tea Syrup
1 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
2 Lapsang Souchong Teabags
Steep teabags in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dissolve sugar into brewed tea. Chill.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at
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