About USC Cocktails

Spirits in cocktail-appropriate categories are automatically entered into USC Cocktails when they enter Ultimate Spirits Challenge. There is no additional entry fee for USC Cocktails.

The over-the-shoulder shaking was piston-like and the clanking of ice cubes was deafening at the UBC Evaluation Center in Hawthorne, NY last March as Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC) 2017 swung into full-scale cocktail judging mode. For the third year in a row, USC’s super-star judging panels tested hundreds of spirits in appropriate classic cocktails to further embellish the data for spirits producers and marketers. 

To ensure impartiality, the identical recipe was painstakingly measured, including dilution, in milliliters for each cocktail by Team Cocktail in every suitable category. Team Cocktail is comprised of world-class professional bartenders such as Leo DeGroff; Sean Kenyon; Troy Clarke; Brian Bevilaqua; Dave Bletsch; Dave Roochvarg; Berit Jane Soli-Holt and Anthony Mendez.

All Gins in USC 2017 were tasted in a Gin Bramble; Blanco and Reposado Tequilas in a Paloma; Añejo Tequilas in an Añejo Smash; Mezcal in Mezcal Last Word; North American and World Whiskeys in a Whiskey Sour; Rye Whiskeys in a Manhattan; Irish Whiskey in Irish Coffee; Scotch in a Stone Fence; Brandy and Cognac in a Brandy Crusta, Calvados and Apple Brandy in a Pan American Clipper; Pisco in Pisco Punch; Vodka in a Fresh Lime Juice Gimlet; Dry Vermouths in a Bamboo; Sweet Vermouths in a Sweet Thang Highball; Rums in a Daiquiri; Cachaça in an Alta Smash; Baijiu in a Baijiu Sour and Shochu in a Shochu Sour

Each cocktail was evaluated blind individually with a glass of its base spirit ingredient poured neat next to it for reference. Cocktails were scored on a 1-to-5 star scale, with 2 ½ to 3 stars being hailed as Delicious, 3 ½ to 4 stars as Very Delicious, and 4 ½ to 5 stars as Drop Dead Delicious. All cocktails rated Delicious, Very Delicious and Drop Dead Delicious are listed under Cocktail Commendations on the website.

By investigating the mixability factor of spirits Ultimate Spirits Challenge has enhanced the analytical data it supplies for suppliers and their marketing teams. Spirits, after all, aren’t only consumed neat. To have expert analysis by mixology superstars on straight enjoyment AND how that spirit performs in a cocktail is highly advantageous to brands and consumers. As the only major spirits competition in North America to include mixability evaluations as part of the entry fee, USC’s findings provide marketers with valuable insights as to how their spirits perform in classic cocktails. What’s not to love?