Make it Exotico Tequila competition crowns Raleigh semi-finalist

Make it Exotico Cocktails.jpg

By Jennifer Primrose

The United States Bartenders' Guild's "Make It Exotico" Cocktail Competition recently visited Raleigh as part of its series to find the best mixologist from across the U.S. making their best cocktail using Exotico Blanco or Reposado Tequila as the base spirit.

On February 2 inside Watts & Ward cocktail bar, a total of 9 regional mixologists came to win. The winner of this semifinal event will win an all-expense paid trip to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans to compete for the grand prize – an all-expense paid trip to Jalisco, Mexico, to visit Exotico tequila's distillery.

Mixologists from Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Charleston and as far as New Jersey came to compete. They had 7 minutes to make 4 drinks for the judges who used the following criteria to crown a winner: appearance, aroma, creativity, taste and overall impression. The judges were Kasey Liebes, manager at Counting House in 21c Durham; Gina Stephens, publisher of Raleigh Magazine; Dathan Kazsuk, design editor of Triangle Business Journal; and Kyle Erkes of C. Grace on Glenwood Avenue.

Kevin Barrett of Dram & Draught won the Raleigh regional competition c/o Make it Exotico

Kevin Barrett of Dram & Draught won the Raleigh regional competition c/o Make it Exotico

Every drink was well done, but at the end of the night, it was Kevin Barrett of Raleigh's Dram & Draught who won with his Samba in the Rain (Bottom right photo in the graphic above). 


1-ounce Aperol

1.5-ounces Exotico Blanco

3/4-ounce lemon juice

1/2-ounce agave syrup

3-ounces soda water

4 dashes Sombra Mezcal

Add all ingredients except Mezcal in shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice into Collins glass. Top with soda water. Add dashed or spritz of Mezcal. Garnish and serve.

Other stops to find a finalist include Miami (Jan. 23), San Diego (Feb. 27), Austin (March 6), Indianapolis (March 20), Denver (April 17) and Detroit (May 1).