Restaurant: Guard and Grace, Denver
Creators: Lasha Muske, bar manager, and Alex Linney, bartender
Inspiration: The need to create a vodka drink that would stand up to the restaurant’s tomahawk bone-in ribeye.
Key Ingredients: Smoked vodka, Cappelletti Liqueur, Lagavulin Scotch and a sliced lemon dusted with house steak seasoning
What the Judges Said: “If you’re going to create a vodka cocktail that can hold up to a slab of meat grilled over an oak fire, you’ve got to get dramatic. The barkeeps at Guard do just that by smoking the vodka in the oak-fired grill and then adding to it Cappelletti, a slightly sweet wine-based Italian aperitif with a bitter finish. It’s a clever combination that is further enhanced by the smoky Scotch. Just as clever is the addition of a lemon slice dusted with steak seasoning. It’s a hell of a lot of work to create a vodka cocktail that mimics a dark-spirit cocktail, but it’s one fine sip and made us wish we had a tomahawk ribeye.”