2015 Somms Under Fire

Somms Under Fire Past Cocktail Challenges

2016 Somms Under Fire Chopin Vodka Cocktail Challenge

Chopin Vodka logo 200117.jpg
Chopin Vodka 250300.jpg

The 2016 Somms Under Fire cocktail Challenge featured Chopin Vodka and challenged contestants to create a cocktail that showcased both their personality and the vodka. The recipes for the three delicious cocktails can be found below.

Luke's cocktail 2.jpg

Under the Boardwalk by Advanced Sommelier Luke Boland

  • 2 oz. bay leaf infused Chopin Vodka (recipe follows)
  • 1 oz. grapefruit syrup (Recipe Follows)
  • 1 handful of fresh cranberries
  • small pinch of celery seed (like 6 grains for a 3oz serving, maybe for the large batch, no more than 1/8 teaspoon sicne they're potent)
  • Garnish: 1 candied grapefruit segment (recipe follows)

Shake everything together, making sure to shake long enough to crush the cranberries against the ice. This is mostly for color and just a little tart fruit flavor. Double strain and serve. Garnish with the fruit segment on a skewer.

Bay infused Chopin: Put one bottle of Chopin in a sauce pan with 6 bay leaves. Turn on the heat to the lowest setting, the goal is to get warm but not encourage evaporation. It should never reach a simmer. Allow to steep warm for 20 minutes, and then remove the leaves. If more bottles are used, only add 1 more bay leaf for each additional bottle.

Candied Grapefruit: Cut supremes of grapefruit segments. After syrup comes to a simmer, pour it over the grapefruit segments, and then allow cooling for 5 minutes. Remove segments from syrup, and keep the syrup for making the drink. Place segments on parchment paper, top each segment with a small pinch of Maldon sea salt and bake at 300 degrees in a convection oven for 15 minutes, then at 200 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from sheet when done

Grapefruit Syrup: The ratio here is 2.5 oz by volume to 1oz sugar by weight. Scale as needed for volume. Combine these two ingredients in a sauce pan and just bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Blake's cocktail 350350.jpg

Chauncey's Dagger by Advanced Sommelier Blake Leja

  • 1 oz. Chopin Potato Vodka
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. Soda
  • 4 strawberries
  • Mint leaves
  • A dash of lemon juice

Muddle/mash simple syrup, strawberries, mint leaves, and vodka in a glass. Add soda to shaker. Shake all ingredients, strain into rocks glass, and top off with a dash of lemon juice and ice. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Ryan's cocktail 350350.jpg

Changes by Certified Sommelier Ryan Robinson

  • 1.5 oz. Chopin Vodka
  • 1 oz. Sweet Potato-Cardamom Syrup
  • .5 oz. Ginger Beer

Served over ice with a 'Apple Pie Slice' garnish

Mix and shake vodka and sweet potato-cardamom syrup, pour over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish

***Sweet-Potato Syrup:

Peel and dice one whole sweet potato. Bake with 1tbl spoon of honey at 400 for 15-20 minutes. While potato is baking; bring to a boil 12oz of white vinegar, 4oz of water 4oz of honey and 2 whole cracked cardamom pods. Remove potato from oven when cubes are soft. Add to boiling vinegar. As mixture is boiled, mash the sweet potatoes.When a syrup consistency is achieved, removed from heat, strain and press through strainer.

Total prep time 30-40 minutes.

2015 Somms Under Fire TIO PEPE Sherry Cocktail Challenge

Tio Pepe small.jpg
SUF 2015 Cocktail Challenge

The 2015 Somms Under Fire Cocktail Challenge featured Tio Pepe Fino Sherry and challenged contestants to create a cocktail that showcased both their personality and the sherry. The recipes for the three delicious results can be found below.

Andalucian Punch

Andalucian Punch by Advanced Sommelier Luke Boland

  • 1.5oz Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
  • .75 oz Citrus Syrup (Recipe Follows)
  • .75 oz Strawberry purée with rosemary (Recipe Follows)

Combine all ingredients. Shake and strain into a coup. Garnish by squeezing orange twist over the drink and placing the orange twist into the coup.

Citrus Syrup; Yield: 16 oz (Yields 21 Drinks)

  • 4 Oranges
  • 4 Lemons
  • ¼ Cup Sugar

Juice the oranges and lemons. Strain the juice into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Heat just enough to dissolve the sugar into the juice, then strain, cool, and store.

Strawberry Puree; Yield: 10 oz (Yields 13 Drinks)

  • 16 Oz. Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 Sprig of Rosemary

Remove the stems and cores from the strawberries. Purée the strawberries in a blender. Strain the liquid into a small saucepan. Add salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add rosemary and heat just until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture, cool, and store.

Learn more about Luke Boland.

Rio Peachy

Rio Peachy by Advanced Sommelier Eric Crane

  • 2 oz Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
  • .5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Blanc)
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Served "Up"

Combine all ingredients over Fresh Ice in a Boston Shaker. Shake correctly and strain into chilled rocks glasses. No garnish.

Learn more about Eric Crane.

Open Sesame Cocktail

Open Sesame by Advanced Sommelier James Watkins - Cocktail Challenge Winner

The Open Sesame, crafted by Advanced Sommelier James Watkins, was the winner of the three cocktails featured in the 2015 Somms Under Fire Tio Pepe Sherry Cocktail Challenge.

  • 2 Oz Tio Pepe Fino
  • 3/4 oz Honey Ginger Syrup (Recipe Below)
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice

Combine in shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously, strain into a rocks glass with ice. Pop two sage leaves into glass. Finish with 2 droplets of sesame oil. Enjoy responsibly.

Honey Ginger Syrup recipe:

  • 8 oz Honey
  • 2 Oz Water
  • 2 Oz chopped fresh ginger

Bring mixture to a boil, whisking gently. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into an attractive glass of your choosing. Allow to cool before using.

Learn more about James Watkins.

2014 Somms Under Fire SakéMoto & SakéOne "Saktail" Challenge

sakemoto logo

Saké Blossom by Advanced Sommelier Paula de Pano

  • 2 oz. SakéOne
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1/2 oz. Ginger Syrup (Recipe Below)
  • 1/4 oz. Apple Essence (Recipe Below)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake vigorously until foamy. Strain in a cocktail glass.

Apple Essence

Yield: 6 oz.

  • Juice of 2 green apples (Granny Smith)
  • Juice of 1 lime

Combine, place in a squeeze bottle.

Ginger Syrup

Yield: 8 oz.

  • 2 3-inch pieces fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Combine ingredients in a small pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, strain, and transfer in a squeeze bottle.

A Jaded Encounter.jpg

A Jaded Encounter by Advanced Sommelier James Watkins

  • 1.5 oz. SakéMoto
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. kiwi juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 basil leaves

Combine in a shaker tin, pop leaves in palm, shake vigorously. Double strain into an attractive coupe of your choice. Garnish with a kiwi ice cube and a basil leaf.

Saktail pic #1.jpg

Mizu by Advanced Sommelier Nathan Prater

  • 7 cubes of ice
  • 1/2 oz. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 oz. "Vermouth" (Recipe Below)
  • 2 oz. SakéMoto

In a mixing glass, add seven cubes of ice. Pour rice wine vinegar onto the ice and stir to "coat" cubes. Pour off the rice wine vinegar, keeping the ice cubes. Add "Vermouth" to cubes and stir to "coat" cubes. Add SakéMoto and stir until well chilled. Strain contents into a thoroughly chilled coup. Garnish with a large lemon peel.

Citrus Water

  • Citrus peels of two lemons and one orange
  • 4 cups water

Bring water to a boil. Add lemon and orange peels. Keep at a controlled "roiling" boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring as needed. Pour citrus water through a fine strainer. Discard citrus peels and allow citrus water to cool to room temperature. The mixture should reduce to 2.5 cups.


  • 3/4 cup Citrus Water (Recipe Above)
  • 1/2 cup SakéMoto
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (Marukan Organic)
  • 1/3 cup clover honey
  • 2 citrus peels of orange
  • 1 Tablespoon dried lavender

Combine Citrus Water, SakéMoto, and rice vinegar in a medium saucepan at room temperature. Stir gently to combine with a metal spoon. Apply heat with a medium flame until the mixture simmers. Stir in honey until completely dissolved. Add citrus peels of orange and dried lavender. Simmer for 10 minutes under a medium flame. Reduce flame to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then pour all into a medium sized plastic container. Allow to macerate for 3 hours. After 3 hours, pour "Vermouth" through a fine strainer into a plastic sauce bottle. Discard the lavender and citrus peels. Note: "Vermouth" should have a distinct bitter-orange-sweet-sour taste.

2013 Somms Under Fire Cocktail Challenge

Espolon logo small.png

Lechuza by Certified Sommelier Scott Ota

  • 1 oz Espolon Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz Donn's Lillet Blanc #2
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 dash cinnamon tincture
  • zest of grapefruit garnish

Combine all ingredients (except garnish) over fresh cubed ice and shake hard for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish.

Pierre Ferrand logo small.jpg

Seven Bells by Advanced Sommelier Bill Elsey

  • 1oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
  • 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 3/4 oz Martinez tawny port
  • 1/4 oz honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • orange peel garnish

Combine all ingredients (except garnish) over fresh cubed ice and shake hard for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish.

No. 209 logo small.jpg

Surfer Rosa by Advanced Sommelier Nathan Prater

  • 1 1/2 oz No. 209 gin
  • 1/2 oz Aperol
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 dash celery bitters

Combine all ingredients over fresh cubed ice and shake hard for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish.