By Matt Starlight
Last Sunday, Olive or Twist bar held the final, championship round of the Bar Fight competition, a Chopped-style cocktail contest that pinned Baton Rouge’s best bartenders against each other. Although the rivalry was fierce, in the end, Olive or Twist’s own Colin Corso took home the Golden Glove.
Corso, 25, has been bartending at Olive or Twist for two and a half years and knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a premier barkeep. The mystery ingredients required for his first drink (and according to him, his best) had to include kiwi and cream cheese. Corso decided to build on the complex flavors with spirits he knows well.
“I wanted to make a sweet, springtime drink but still hit it with some heat,” he said, “so I used Tonteo jalapeño infused tequila, along with elderflower liqueur and a hibiscus liqueur and a little bit of agave nectar.”
For the final cocktail, Corso had to include pomegranate balsamic vinegar and a strawberry habanero jam. “With these ingredients, I haven’t been trying to mask the flavor,” said Corso, “I’m trying to bring their flavors out.” To bring it all together, Corso mixed in an ounce and a half of pineapple juice to attain that “sweet heat” and Oryza Gin, a mellow, rice gin distilled right here in the Pelican State.
Corso sees this competition as representative of the growth of the Capital City’s craft bar scene as a whole. “It’s been trickling down from New Orleans for the last few years and now I feel like it’s really hitting Baton Rouge hard. The craft scene is just growing,” he said. “It is booming right now with all these bartenders now playing more with cocktails and gaining more knowledge, there’s room for expansion.”
With competitions like this and bartenders like Corso blooming throughout the city, Baton Rouge is primed to flourish into a craft cocktail scene that specialty drinkers can be proud of.