Rico Wisner ‘s Punch From Ipanema Wins the Grand Prize at the Final Shake Off in Cuca Fresca’s
“Shake Your Way To Brazil” National Mixology Challenge
On December 1 st, Rico Wisner was named the Grand Prize Winner in Cuca Fresca’s “Shake Your Way to Brazil” Mixology Challenge. His winning cocktail, the Punch from Ipanema, represented an inventive new interpretation of a classic punch and incorporated Cuca Fresca Premium Cachaça, a homemade hibiscus and rooibos tea simple syrup, passion fruit juice, fresh lime juice, and Domaine de Canton. Rico’s inspiration for the cocktail was the sunset over Ipamena, a place he has visited in the past with his Brazilian wife. The cocktail is featured at his restaurant, Poste Moderne Brasserie, in Washington, DC.
Cuca Fresca launched this competition in July as a way of inspiring creative bartenders and mixologists to find the ultimate way of using their premium cachaça in a cocktail that demonstrated their own unique style. The other goal of the competition was to show the versatility of Cuca Fresca’s cachaça in cocktails, which was definitely achieved by the amazing range and diversity of the five cocktails in the finals, all of which were incredibly well thought out and executed.
Paul Pacult, on the five judges for the finals said “this cocktail competition was easily the most competitive contest I've judged. The level of skill provided by the finalists was extraordinary, as was borne out by their five cocktails, Choosing a winner was difficult, since they were all deserving. In the end, the delicious Punch from Ipanema won our hearts. "
Sean Ludford, another of the Shake Off’s judges who has judged over fifty cocktail competitions, also said “this was the most impressive line-up of cocktails that I have ever seen in a comparable competition.”
Cuca Fresca’s owner, Phoenix Kelly-Rappa, said, “we knew this competition would be tough based on the caliber of talent we had competing and the cocktails they were making but we had no idea it would be so very close.” Cuca Fresca plans on making this a yearly competition and Ms. Kelly-Rappa also said, “we hope this is only the beginning of our ever-increasing relationship with the mixology community.”
The finals were held at Chicago’s Encore Liquid Lounge because of their innovative cocktail program and unique layout. The lounge’s raised circular bar provided the perfect stage for the finalists to showcase their skills for the judges and crowd. The event was attended by some of Chicago’s top mixologists, including Todd Appel and Lynn House. It was also attended by the Brazilian Vice-Consulate, Leila Tavares. The Punch From Ipanema will be added as a permanent selection on Encore’s cocktail menu.
As the grand prize winner, Rico Wisner will be flown to Brazil for a five-day trip that includes a private distillery tour courtesy of Cuca Fresca.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND FINALIST RECIPES
Combine all ingredients, shake well with ice and serve on the rocks.
Garnish with a lime slice.