Sultry summer nights call for cool sips, and the Summer Cocktail Showdown at Hotel ZaZa Memorial City certainly shook things up. Some of Houston’s best bartenders mixed, muddled, and poured a selection of hand-crafted cocktails made with an assortment of Diageo liquors at a poolside fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank.
The soiree drew a stylish crowd of 150 who sipped cocktails and noshed on bites created by chef Jacob Weaver, Hotel ZaZa’s corporate director of food and beverages. Weaver’s menu paired with each of the evening’s cocktails for a complete culinary experience. The chef’s menu included compressed watermelon with Tajin, crème fraiche, red onion and herb dip, yuzu and honeydew skewers, coconut shrimp with a creamy avocado drizzle, and pork belly with pineapple curd.
The evening’s mixmasters and creations were Blend Bar’s Arturo Jimenez (the El Navegente with Ketel 1), Presidio’s Ryan Perry (the Esta Machin with Tanqueray 10), Southbank’s Zach Churbok (the Rye 75 with Bulliet Rye), South Bank’s Patrick Abalos (The Respite with Ciroc Pineapple), and Prohibition’s Jonathan Gallardo (the Zacapa Solera with Zacapa Rum). Guests were encouraged to vote for their favorite drink of the evening, crowning Patrick Abalos — from South Bank — as the audience favorite.
The overall winning cocktail of the night was chosen by a cadre of judges known for their culinary good taste. CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam, food writer and influencer Megha Tejpal, and United States Bartenders Guild and Houston chapter president Robby Cook sipped through the five offerings. The judges declared Jimenez’s El Navegente the winner.
CultureMap Houston hosted the Summer Cocktail Showdown with Hotel ZaZa Memorial City. The lively event raised $2,000 and all proceeds will directly benefit the Houston Food Bank.