AhSo restaurant in Brambleton on Monday again hosted a “Chopped” secret ingredient style-competition, where bartenders from around Northern Virginia competed to be named this year’s best.
In each of three rounds, bartenders were challenged to create a cocktail with a surprise secret ingredient, competing to win over three judges and the crowd. And at the same time, they raised $4,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Nikki Drake, from 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, came out on top, earning bragging rights for the next year as Northern Virginia’s best bartender. She overcame competition from Jon Schott from The Peoples Drug in Alexandria, Eric Bowers from Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, Erin Robertson from AhSo Restaurant, Alex Moreno from Circa at Clarendon in Clarendon, and Chris West from The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg. They were judged by Michael Saccone, of Thrashers Rum & Tiki TNT; Stefanie Gans, former dining editor and restaurant critic for Northern Virginia Magazine and current program director at Cookology; and Scott Harris, founder of Catoctin Creek Distillery.
Last year’s winning bartender, Phil Duong of Ahso Restaurant, welcomed guests with a starter cocktail of his own.
The event also featured a silent auction, and was organized by Catoctin Creek Distilling’s operations manager, Lauren Barrett, and tasting room manager, Denise Petty. Catoctin Creek also donated all the liquors the bartenders used.