Competition Update: Sombra and Italicus Crown Winners

By Neat Pour Staff |

Two new cocktail competitions just announced the winners of their maiden runs. Katie Renshaw topped the field in Italicus’s first annual apertivo face-off, and Marshall Davis took home top honors in Sombra’s sustainability showdown.


Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, announced that Katie Renshaw (etta, Chicago) took first place aka “Bar Artist of the year” in their inaugural “Art of Italicus Aperitivo Challenge.” Matthew Schulze (Underdog, New York) landed second place, and Rachel Sandra Johnson (Raised, Chicago) bagged third.

Renshaw’s “A Stranger Among Us” apertivo was crowned victorious out of a field of 500 plus entrants. Her creative cocktail earned her an all-expense paid, three city tour of Europe.

The six finalist gathered for the finals at NYC’s Black Tail where they were judged by a panel comprised of Italics Founder Giuseppe Gallo as well as Jillian Vose (The Dead Rabbit), Pietro Collina (The NoMad) and Estelle Bossy (Del Posto).

“We were impressed by the creativity and earnestness of all of the American bartenders who submitted recipes,” said Gallo in a statement. “We like to say that Italicus Rosolio embodies Italy’s art, architecture and poetry in liquid form. So to see all of these fresh and exciting takes on the  aperitivo, the quintessential Italian cocktail, all inspired by Italicus Rosolio and works of art, was truly inspiring. We are already excited about next year’s competition.”

Renshaw’s cocktail relied was inspired by a series of paintings by Italian, surrealist painter Franco Innocenti. Taking it’s name from the collection, “A Stranger Among Us” combines Italicus with dry cider (and a few other goodies). The specs follow.

A Stranger Among Us

Print Recipe
A Stranger Among Us


Sombra Mezcal announced that Marshall Davis (Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria, Raleigh, N.C.) won their new take ont he cocktail contest. Focused on sustainability and judged by industry darlings, Kelsey Ramage and Iain Griffiths of Trash Tiki, the competition tapped into a cause changing the bar industry. 

“Marshall’s drink, the Hyena Fang, was really the most creative that we saw in the competition,” say Ramage and Griffiths in a statement. “The way he used the peanut shells to salt-infuse the Zucca was such a rad idea and one that we had never seen before. His use of amontillado sherry to pick up on the nuttiness and grapefruit oleo to balance the whole thing out was so unlike anything else we saw in the competition and ended up really delicious!”

Although the original competition was remotely judged to keep the carbon footprint small, Davis will be rewarded with some travel. The victor landed a week long trip to Sombra’s palenque in Oaxaca.

Hyena Fang

Print Recipe
Hyena Fang
  1. Build drink in rocks glass. Add bitters and oleo-saccharum first, then lower a large ice cube into the glass.
  2. Add sherry, salted Zucca and peanut-infused Sombra Mezcal.
  3. Stir until diluted and chilled.
  4. Taste for balance.
  5. Garnish with a trimmed, expressed grapefruit peel.
Recipe Notes
*Peanut-Infused Sombra Mezcal
-Shell 1 cup salted, shell-on peanuts.
-Reserve shells for salted Zucca.
-Combine shelled nuts and 0.75 liter Sombra Mezcal in a glass infusion jar and let sit for 48 hours. Strain through a nut milk bag. 
**Salted Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro
-Add 1 cup of peanut shells to an ISI charger and whip twice with 16 oz of Zucca for 30 seconds first, 5 minutes second.
-Strain through a nut milk bag.
***Grapefruit Scrap Oleo-Saccharum
-Peel 12 grapefruits, the smaller the shards, the better, leaving as much pith behind as possible.
-Place the peels in a stainless steel bowl and cover with sugar, about 1.5 cups. Gently knead the sugar into the peels by hand or with a muddler. 
-Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 24 to 48 hours. If residual sugar remains, add a few drops of hot water until it is all dissolved.
-Strain off the solids and refrigerate.
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