BBCo wins drink challenge

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‘The Modern Prometheus’ the official drink of 2018 Kentucky Bourbon Festival

By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor

The Bardstown Bourbon Company’s big splash just got bigger, as their “mad scientist” mixologists wowed the crowd with an enthusiastic presentation Tuesday at Spalding Hall to win the 2018 Bourbon Capital Mixed Drink Challenge.


Dan Callaway, bar manager of the BBCo’s Bottle & Bond restaurant which opened earlier this summer, and teammate Randi Densford captured the title with their concoction, “The Modern Prometheus,” a cocktail featuring Calumet bourbon, one of the company’s collaborating brands, which will be the official drink for the 2018 Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

“It’s incredible,” Callaway said. “This is something we came together for. The Bardstown Bourbon Company bar team — best bar team in the state — recruited to come be a part of something special.”

“The Modern Prometheus” combines 10-year-old Calumet, 20-year-old Pierre Ferrand cognac, walnut and cardamom bitters, fernet amaro syrup, apples, sugar and lemon. He said it was designed to have a good deal of depth and complexity, with the bourbon and bitters countered by the sweetness of the syrup.

“We made this cocktail (to be) unique, something that’s never been done before,” Callaway said. “We’re super-proud of it, and we released it tonight.”

This year’s KBF poster theme is “Scientific Proof,” designed to highlight the chemistry behind the bourbon-making process, and, by extension, the drink-mixing process. Seven entries competed for the title, with recipes playing off the festival theme. Some of the entrants went even further in their efforts to embrace the theme, but none more so than Callaway and Densford, who entered the room with walk-up music akin to what one might experience at a professional wrestling match. Densford and Callaway, like several others, went for the lab coat and goggles combination in their attire, and Callaway went one step more by painting his face green and inhabiting a Frankenstein’s Monster character, to the delight of the crowd.

David Mandell, CEO of Bardstown Bourbon Company, said he loved the show his team put on and it was just one of many examples of the innovative spirit he wants to instill in his employees, while also having fun doing it.

“What our team did here shows you the creativity of our company,” he said. “We love it. It’s the freedom to have a great time and enjoy it.”

Dan Scofield, of distillerytrail.com, was on the judges’ panel Tuesday. He said it was interesting to see the processes used by the bartenders, as well as sample their creations.

“You have to pay attention, and you actually have to judge on the individual merits of the different elements” that go into the cocktail, he said. “It was fun. … It’s a great local event.”

This year marked a big change in the calendar for the Challenge, which has traditionally been an April event. Jill Hawkins, the executive director of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, said the move was made to bring the event closer to the start of September’s festival, serving as an official early opener.

“We were afraid that it got lost, being so far off from the festival,” she said. “We’re 50 days out. This is the kickoff. This is where we hit the ground and run. Tickets are on sale. The website’s live. This starts the game.”