Mixologist: Alive's Best Bartender in Columbus
The top mixologists from 16 of Columbus' newest bars were whittled down to a final four through online voting at ColumbusAlive.com. Bowsher then defeated The Pub-Polaris' John Perfors, Level Dining Lounge's Zak Burgess and Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar's Mandi Stephens in the final cocktail throwdown.
"It's amazing as hell to be labeled the best bartender," Bowsher said.
The contest was judged by an expert panel - Alive's Managing Editor Brian Lindamood and nightlife reporter Miss Bella, ABC Bartending School's Terry Hanson and emcee Kelsey Webb of WNCI's Morning Zoo. The crowd was filled with friends, family and co-workers hooting and hollering for the top-notch hooch slingers.
Round one saw each bartender concoct their tastiest combination of orange-flavored vodka and beer (yes, beer and vodka), working with a wide selection of standard bottles and mixers behind the bar.
The frenzied second round had the contestants making two different rum-based drinks in two minutes.
The final round threw a curveball with a mystery ingredient - blueberry vodka. Finalists Perfors and Bowsher just needed a quick whiff to solve the mystery and whip up drinks that drew high praise from the judges. In the end, Bowsher's frothy concoction wound up on top.
Before the competition, the humble champion said his plan was to "wing it," but his familiarity behind the bar came in handy. One of his favorite things to do is experimenting with the unusual.
"I'll mix up shots all day," Bowsher said. "I like to find ingredients that are never used ... and put them in drinks and people go, 'Wow, that was good.' I tell them [what] it was, and they'll say, 'No way, I hate that.' "
To prepare for the competition, Bowsher filed through his collection of recipes, but in the end was more confident in his ability to improvise. Well played, sir.
Neighborhood: Upper Arlington
Years behind the bar: 7
Favorite drinks: Cranberry and Citron, IPA, pale ale
4040 Easton Station, Easton
Brandon Bowsher's Winning Drink
1/2 oz. blueberry vodka
1/4 oz. peach schnapps
1/4 oz. blue Curacao
1/4 oz. Midori Melon Liqueur
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
Splash of sour