Prior to the actual contest, guests were treated to the night’s potent complimentary cocktail, simply entitled “The Opera Cocktail." Belying its non-descript moniker, this concoction touted substantial muscle via the “Navy Strength” 114 proof Gin nestled within. Suffice to say, buzzes were plentiful!
With the rosy haze of merriment quickly enveloping the crowd, Master of Ceremonies (and cocktail connoisseur) Allen Katz kicked off the competition by introducing the panel of judges: star bass baritone, Bryn Terfel; two-time mixology contest winner, Lynnette Marreo, and drink columnist, Gary Regan.
With the pleasantries observed, the time for mixing had arrived!
St. John Frizell, mixologist at Fort Defiance, was the first to peddle his liquid wares. Frizell’s cocktail, entitled “The Dagger,” came complete with a rousing performance of the infamous soliloquy inspiring the drink’s title. Hints of citrus, Scottish gin, and bitters were prominent in this flavorful, deep, razor-sharp creation.
Naturally, any event involving the Bard would be incomplete without conspiracy theories pertaining to his authenticity/existence. Therefore, the literary controversy instigated by Milk & Honey maestro, Sasha Petraske, came as no surprise. His submission, entitled “The De Vere,”—a telltale nod to alleged Macbeth scribe, Edward De Vere—brought some madness and bite to his “classic variation” with the inclusion of Absinthe.
The lovely Pamela Wiznitzer, resident mixologist of The King, continued the festivities with her creation entitled “Peccato”. Wiznitzer’s take on “Peccato” (Italian for “sin”), drew from the sinfully, bloody histories of Shakespeare’s play. Complete with a garish blood orange garnish, and served in miniature goblets, this cocktail truly embodied its insidious nature!
At the midway point of the competition, Ward III concocter, Michael Neff, immersed the crowd in the supernatural ethereality inherent within Macbeth. Neff’s creation, “Banquo’s Ghost," quite literally came out in a miasma of smoke (via the clever use of dry ice). Neff’s use of supernatural and prophetic themes successfully transcended the mortal shell of his concoction!
Last, but certainly not least, mixologist James Menite of The Crown. Menite’s imaginative creation aptly titled “Si Colmi il Calice”—rough translation “fill up the glass”—was a celebratory toast to the enigmatic fervor of Lady Macbeth. The cocktail, which strived to achieve a fine balance of Macbeth’s Italian and Scottish elements, incorporated Scottish ale and ginger syrup in an eclectic array of flavor. Capped with an edible preamble/ garnish—Menite ended the competition on a flourishing high note!
With the sampling complete, the judges briefly excused themselves for deliberation. The subsequent anticipation was taut and all consuming, yet thankfully brief. Upon reconvening, the judges unanimously announced Meaghan Dorman’s “Glory & Grief” as the evening’s victor, specifically highlighting its fine balance of “delicate notes and difficult ingredients."
With time on the wane, and the opening performance of Macbeth imminent, the evening came to a close all too soon. Yet the majesty, creativity, and dedication of the night’s mixologists is to be commended—as yet another installment of the Met’s annual “Mixology Contest” wound down with the typical elegance and grace associated with its consummate success.