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Bombay Sapphire’s Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender in LA

Ali Huleisy of the Melrose Umbrella Co. has been chosen as the LA finalist in BOMBAY SAPPHIRE’s Search for the Most Imaginative Bartender!  He will be heading to Las Vegas in September to compete for the ultimate title, creating concoctions that inspire and WOW, to beat the top mixologists from across the US.

As this was the first year where the competition was open to LA’s crowd of cocktail aficionados, both guests and judges, including last year’s regional LA winner, Karen Grill, gathered on August 5 at West Hollywood’s Harlowe to sample cocktails made by LA’s most talented mixologists. A series of challenging timed sessions and blind tastings were conducted by a panel of esteemed judges including Mary Bartlett, Creative Cocktail Development and Bar Manager at Honey Cut LA, Chris Ojeda, former Creative Bar Director at Soho House, Karen Grill, 2013 regional winner and Zahra Bates, bartender at The Pikey Café & Bar.

After careful deliberation, the judges named Huleisy’s “The London Lassi” as the evening’s “Most Imaginative” based on appearance, aroma, imagination and taste. Ali Huleisy will share the stage with the country’s top mixologists for a chance at the title of “Nation’s Most Imaginative Bartender,” also resulting in a cover feature of GQ magazine’s “Men of the Year” December 2014 issue.

LA_MIB_2014_(2)

LA’s Bombay Sapphire Winner Ali Huleisy with Gary Hayward, Bombay Sapphire National Brand Ambassador. (Courtesy of Bombay Sapphire)

My dear friend Jasmin Rosemberg and I had a blast sampling the master medleys from the talented group of mixologists. Most contestants had a story that tied around the origins of Bombay Sapphire, and I couldn’t get over the thought process involved in their concoctions. One mixologist enhanced his drinks with various infused boba, like rose or lavender (you could pick), while another had the alcohol sit in a mini salt lick mortar, and another made an iced lychee block that could softly melt within the drink. The passionate mixologist Brad Fry from Babette’s in Newport Beach showcased even special hatched eggs to garnish the drink stuffed with numerous herbs and flowers from the garden that were actually used in the drink – mashed into the liquid flavoring.

We both voted for the winner. We loved his spicy mixture with a mango blend that included finishing with some spicy pistachio nuts. I am also a huge fan of Melrose Umbrella Co, a fun bar on Melrose that always promises a wild inclusive time. Their decor is vintage 1920’s based on an old speakeasy. Umbrellas hang on one wall to remind you that back in Prohibition era that was the sign outside the establishment to let you know it was a wet bar. You need an umbrella when it’s wet (and a cocktail). We were so thrilled their Ali Huleisy won!

“It’s an absolute honor to have the opportunity to be nationally recognized in my field. To be able to compete alongside some of the most talented bartenders across the nation is something very few will have a chance to do, and I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can go against the best of the best,” said Huleisy. “There’s so much emerging talent in the bartending field around the country, and the USBG and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE are really doing a great service by bringing the craft of bartenders to the forefront.  I’ve worked harder than you can imagine to get where I am and I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity.  I’ll be bringing my A game!”

Huleisy’s winning cocktail recipe:

The London Lassi:LA_MIB_2014_(1)

1.5 oz Saffron Infused Bombay Sapphire

.5 oz Pistachio Infused Strega

.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

.75 oz Mango Perfect Puree of Napa Valley

1 barspoon of greek yogurt

8 drops of Bitter End Curry Bitters

Now in its eighth year, the United States Bartenders’ Guild Most Imaginative Bartender search has become an industry tradition. The USBG  is thrilled to be able to continue spotlighting undiscovered talent across the world.

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