Montreal bartender Sabrina Mailhot (of the Cold Room in Old Montreal, and Mile End’s Bishop and Bagg) is the only Canadian finalist in Bacardi Legacy, one of the biggest cocktail competitions on the planet — and next month, she’ll compete in Mexico City to take out the whole competition.
In recent months, Mailhot beat out a range of competitors, first from Quebec and then from across Canada, to take the national title, and she’ll compete against 40 other bartenders for the grand prize — she’s also the first Quebecer to be Canada’s finalist in the 13-year-old competition.
The success has stemmed partly from her boozy drink created specifically for the competition, the Séquito. It features two ounces of Bacardi eight-year aged Gran Reserva, Angostura bitters, an ounce of orange juice, a half-ounce each of lime juice and grenadine, and a quarter-ounce of banana liqueur. Everything is shaken and served into a coupette, garnished with a lime wheel. (The Bacardi competition asks that cocktails creations go along the lines of rum-based classics like mojitos and daiquiris, and the drinks must be easy replicable: that means no ingredients that are difficult to find or to make.)
“It’s a very tropical and fresh cocktail,” Mailhot tells Eater. “The banana will bring out all the tropical flavours in the Bacardi, the orange juice brings it all together, the lime juice brings acidity, and the grenadine brings fruitiness and a little molasses flavour. Then the aromatic bitters bring out oak and winter spices from the rum.”
While the cocktail was made specifically for the competition, Mailhot says that she hopes she has created something with a whole lot more longevity beyond that.
“You want to create a legacy, you want to create something that people will still be drinking ten years from now, even 20 years.”
There’s more to it than just creating something that tastes good: Mailhot spent long periods poring over old cocktail books to ensure that nothing too similar had been previously made, in or out of the competition. And on top of that, points are also allocated in categories beyond Mailhot’s execution of her cocktail.
Your cocktail needs to have a story, you get points for the name, the whole story behind it,” she says. “For mine, Séquito means “entourage”, family, and community, it pays homage to my mentors in the industry.”
The competition (and Mailhot’s potential victory) happens on May 1.