The bountiful flavours of the Okanagan combined with the aromatic taste of Mexican tequila recently earned a local bartender top marks at an international cocktail competition.
Kelowna bartender Jared Schmidt and his original cocktail, “It Takes A Valley,” took home second place honours at the 2020 Patrón Perfectionists finals held in January in Mexico.
Schmidt was one of 21 bartenders and the lone Canadian at the mix-off, which tested some of the best mixologists in the world.
“I felt really good about it,” said Schmidt about heading into the final day of the competition.
“It was a personal best delivery for me. I didn’t know where I would place in the top (finishers), but I had a good feeling.”
Schmidt started as just one of 5,000 applicants for the competition. After winning the B.C. regionals and being named the Patrón Perfectionists 2020 Canada winner, his concoction was now taking him to the global finals.
Using verjus (unripe wine grapes) from Summerhill Vineyards, cider from Nomad Cider, Patrón tequila and a few other secret ingredients, Schmidt’s original drink took him from behind the bar at Jack’s Pizza and Liquor in Kelowna to behind the bar at the worldwide competition where more than 30 countries were represented.
It Takes A Valley was a name Schmidt chose to reflect the abundance of natural flavours found in the Okanagan.
“I think the fact that I did this from Kelowna, and Kelowna is a smaller market, it shows that if you have the right ideas and motivation and technique, it doesn’t necessarily matter where you’re from,” Schmidt said.
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My parents always used to say I was too much of a perfectionist, but last night I was just the right amount of one. It was an honour to place silver in Patron Perfectionists 2020, and to have my whole country supporting me – that was solid gold. Thank you everyone! #patronperfectionists #simplyperfect.
It wasn’t the first time his talents were recognized. The five-year veteran bartender was also a finalist at the 2019 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience.
What started as a side-gig during university has taken Schmidt across the world, showing off the tastes that have put him among the who’s who of the world’s top bartenders.
“It’s nice because it really does expand your network of people you know,” said Schmidt.
“It’s cool that I can now go to a bar in various cities and various countries and know somebody and have a bit of an in at these different places.”
His cocktails are often featured at Jack’s.
When guests search for an award-winning, Okanagan-themed cocktail, Schmidt’s specialties are just a shake away.
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