When Austin Sanderson started to talk about why his cocktail deserved to win the 2017 Get Crafty California Mixology Contest at the California Mid-State Fair he gave most of the credit to the bourbon from Paso Robles’ KroBar Distillery.
Of course, Sanderson also included a few of his own touches like a beef jerky that paired with the cocktail. Faced with stiff competition from mixologists from around the Central Coast, Sanderson’s effort stood out and claimed the victory.
“I knew this was going to be competitive,” Sanderson said after the win. “It’s a tough task to go up against these guys.”
Sanderson is the mixologist for Paso Robles’ award-winning Fish Gaucho Restaurant, which is situated in the city’s historic downtown.
On Sunday at the Mid-State Fair, Sanderson took an “Old Fashioned” cocktail added some of his own flourishes, including some handmade bitters and liquid smoke, to win the award.
Sanderson said he worked closely with Fish Gaucho Chef Chris Beckett to refine the jerky recipe so that it paired with the cocktail.
KroBar owner Stephen Kroener offered high praise for Sanderson’s work.
“He made it shine,” Kroener told Jeremy West, co-host of “The Cork Dorks.” “It was phenomenal. You always want a cocktail that showcases the base spirit, and he did that phenomenal.”