The Incredible Adventure of Judging an Absinthe Bartender Competition

The Incredible Adventure of Judging an Absinthe Bartender Competition

The Green Beast Cocktail Competition

Absinthia at the SF Palette hosted Green Beast Competition


As a judge at a recent bartender competition in San Francisco, I had the incredible experience of tasting cocktails from some of the Bay Area's top mixologists.

Palette SF hosted an Absinthe Cocktail Competition, yet another stellar Absinthe event at their beautiful restaurant! As an Absinthe expert, I was called to be one of the three judges and was so excited to be at the very first Green Beast Absinthe cocktail competition! As a judge, I was looking for creative and well-balanced cocktails that showcased the unique flavors of Absinthe. I was curious to see - and taste - how the bartenders would incorporate an Absinthe forward drink into something special.

The Green Beast cocktail competition was inspired to make Absinthe forward cocktails. One thing I love about Palette SF is how they have embraced Absinthe culture and made it part of their brand. To see them host an Absinthe competition made my Absinthe loving heart swell. Here's an expert from Palette SF's website about the competition:

"A dash here and a rinse there; absinthe typically isn't seen as a suitable base spirit because of its dominant anise flavor. The Green Beast cocktail competition is looking for a bartender that is able to tame the beast and create a classically driven cocktail that's well balanced and visually appealing. We are looking for bartenders to take their cocktail concept beyond the green fairy." 

The competition rules stated that the recipe must have at least (3/4) ounce of Absinthe. And that the cocktail must not contain more than seven ingredients, including spirits, juices, syrups, drops, and dashes. Solid garnishes were not considered ingredients.

I  judged the competition along with Trevin Hutchins bar manager of Palette SF, and Jen Chen, PR at Pernot-Ricard.

Each bartender brought their ingredients behind the bar and had seven minutes to make their presentation. We learned about their experience with absinthe, why they used certain ingredients, and what the name of the cocktail meant. We had a list of ten questions to help us keep track of the rules and know what to look for. We also formed our opinion about each drink from our personal cocktail knowledge. Answering each question and then turning in the forms without tallying them made the whole process exciting.First place went to the judges favorite, second to the audience favorite, and third place was the judges second place winner. It was truly inspiring to see a group of such talented women mixologists win all three at the Green Beast competition!

It was fascinating to see the different interpretations of what an Absinthe forward cocktail could be. All the bartenders approached this competition with creativity in their ingredients and presentation. I was blown away by the creativity and skill of all the participants. What really struck me was the thoughtfulness of the bartenders' combination of ingredients and how they showcased Absinthe. It was also nice to learn about the bartenders' personal experiences with Absinthe and what it means to them.

Even as an Absinthe expert, I walked away from judging the Green Beast competition learning more about Absinthe's relationship to diverse spirits and ingredients. I got to experience new, creative, and thoughtful recipes. And I had the privilege to meet talented and fun local bartenders.


The Winners of the Green Beast Competition:

First place: Natalie Lichtman of Pabu Izakaya restautrant

Second place: Tammy Hagans of Mission Bowling Club

Third place: Anissa Hernandez of Monsieur Benjamin

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate in this event. It was an incredible experience. Congratulations to all the winners! Keep shaking that Green Fairy into a Green Beast!


Green Beast First Place Award


 Winning Absinthe Recipes from the Green Beast Competition:

Natalie Lichtman of PABU Izakaya, a Michael Mina restaurant

Le Souvenir Cocktail

1.25 oz Pernod Absinthe

2oz Green grape/ green apple juice blend

.25oz lime juice

.75oz thyme-honey syrup

1 tbsp french-style lemon yogurt

Soda water

First place winner Natalie Lichtman

First place winner Natalie Lichtman of PABU Izakaya, a Michael Mina restaurant


Absinthia and Natalie’s incredibly supportive mom

Absinthia and Natalie’s incredibly supportive Mom


Tammy Hagans of Mission Bowling Club

Breakfast of Champions

3.5 oz Mexican hot chocolate

.75 oz absinthe

.75 oz Redbreast Lustau FInish

1 pinch cayenne pepper


Tammy Hagans of Mission Bowling Club


Anissa Hernandez of Monsieur Benjamin

The Fairy’s Poire

1 oz St George Pair Brandy

1 oz Bosc pear Juice

.75 oz orgeat

.75 oz lime

.75 oz absinthe

Shaken with tarragon


Anissa Hernandez of Monsieur Benjamin

Anissa Hernandez of Monsieur Benjamin 





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