For the second time in the past three years, Luke Edson has been named one of the most imaginative bartenders in America.
Edson, a bartender at the Berry and Rye at 11th and Howard Streets, took part in the annual Most Inspired Bartender Competition in Las Vegas earlier this week, ending up in the top 10. The contest, sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, GQ and the United States Bartenders Guild, brings together bartenders from around the country annually to compete for the title.
Edson advanced to the national competition after winning a qualifying round at the Magnolia Hotel earlier this summer, said Ethan Bondelid, one of the owners of the Berry and Rye. Edson won the local contest with a drink called Victoria’s Rhuby, which includes Bombay Sapphire and rhubarb.
In Las Vegas, Edson went up against 45 bartenders in a two-day competition. The first night, he made the Victoria’s Rhuby for several judges, which sent him to the finals. On the second day of competition, he and the other finalists were each given $350, a driver and several hours to find ingredients for a second drink. Each bartender made a batch of the cocktail large enough to serve 500 guests. They also made individual drinks for the judges.
Edson also placed in the top 10 at the competition in 2011, with a drink he called the Debonair Pear. That drink, along with Victoria’s Rhuby, is on the menu at the Berry and Rye.
In other award news, Bellevue’s Moonstruck Meadery took home three awards during a recent wine competition in Argentina.
The Meadery’s Capsumel, or pepper mead, was the only American-made wine or mead to receive a double-gold medal at Vinus 2013, one of many annual international wine competitions. The meadery’s strawberry and blackberry meads won gold and silver medals respectively.
“It’s kind of world recognition,” said Brian Schlueter, president of Moonstruck Meadery.
Schlueter founded Moonstruck in 2011. Not long before, Schlueter, who had been brewing both beer and mead at home for more than 20 years, took 10 gallons of homemade mead to a beer festival. It was gone so quickly that he decided to start selling the stuff.
Schlueter believes that mead, which is made from fermented honey, might be the next big thing as far as craft beverages go.
Until recently, his space at 2221 Madison St. housed both his production facility and tasting room; three months ago, he moved production to another building down the street. He’s also working on carbonated mead, which will be on tap later on this fall in several local bars and restaurants.
Later this month, several Moonstruck meads will take part in another competition, this one in Kiev, Ukraine.
“We’re trying to do kind of a world tour,” he said.