Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | April 1, 2010

Nearing the End of the MB Contest

Honest question – are people tired of me posting about this contest? If so, have no fear, I only have one more post that will come…the one with the outcome!

The editors of the Magnificent Bastard gave a run-down of the strengths and weaknesses of the Final Four cocktails. Here’s their writeup on mine:

How they got there: The Matt Hamlin is the only cocktail not to have had an easy 5-0 victory along the way, mainly due to coming out of what might have been the most competitive bracket, Simplicity. Perhaps this has prepared it for the challenges ahead.

Why you might bet on it: This could be called a Mezcal Rob Roy, always an MB standard. Also, its mix of the New World and Old World has been called brilliant by some judges.

Why you might not: The quality mezcal makes this cocktail, but also introduces some risk. The smokiness is very reminiscent of a good single malt, but this isn’t appreciated by all judges.

Well I’d say all of this is spot the quibble that I keep making that this is based on a Hong Kong, not a Rob Roy, though they are close. Really this would be a Perfect Rob Roy with Maraschino, or, as we say in DC, a Hong Kong. Not that I care or am trying to nitpick – just that the Hong Kong is a cocktail native to DC and, well, two of my favorite bartenders in the world (Derek Brown and Adam Bernbach) have been advocates for it. I feel it is my duty to continue to be such an advocate, too.

The challenge with this cocktail is the peaty smoke of the agave in the mezcal. It took me a long time to get to the point where I enjoyed the smokey flavor of scotch or mezcal in cocktails. Recently, though, it’s become a real favorite of mine. But it’s not for everyone — though what cocktail is? Martini’s range from being too vermouth heavy for American drinkers to enjoy to cold glasses of chilled gin or vodka. Manhattan’s can pack a real punch (I know many people who refuse to touch a cocktail with bourbon out of fear of it being too strong). Sidecars are old and foreign to most American drinkers. With the exception of the Margarita (which still may run up against the “Tequila Got Me Drunk In College Once and Now I’m Scared Of It” wall) – the most popular cocktail in America – there isn’t an historic drink that there are not some people who won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

I think my mezcal Hong Kong is a pretty great cocktail – certainly one of the best I’ve ever created. I’m glad that the judges have liked it enough to see me through three rounds of tough competition. Hopefully my success continues, but if not, hey, it’s fun.



  1. This has been great reading, and I’m dying to know how you finish, so keep on posting.

    You’ve actually convinced me I need to try this cocktail if I find something like in Brooklyn. As an Islay lover, the smokey mezcal sounds great.

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