Ted Kilgore Claims Heirloom-Tomato Cocktail Throne


Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch evaluates cocktails from (left to right) Nate Selsor, Matt Seiter and Kilgore. - ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
  • Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch evaluates cocktails from (left to right) Nate Selsor, Matt Seiter and Kilgore.
On Saturday, a robust crowd descended upon the event space at Orlando's Catering to watch three of our region's preeminent mixologists -- Ted Kilgore, Nate Selsor and Matt Seiter -- whip up tomato-based cocktails as part of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Tomato Festival organized by Slow Food St. Louis.

Sadly, the crowd could only observe and sip an icy blueberry-lemonade concoction or the beer sold in the back. The alcoholic showboating was solely for the panel of judges, which included George Mahe of St. Louis Magazine, Ligaya Figueras of Sauce Magazine and Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispach.

Based on taste, appearance and overall impression, the winner was...Ted Kilgore of Taste by Niche. Can Gut Check call it, or what?

Kilgore took top honor -- a lovely ink jet printed certificate -- for a drink he dubbed "Heirloom to the Throne." The creation combined Plymouth English gin, yellow chartreuse, a blend juiced from green grape and white heirloom tomatoes, yellow watermelon and cucumber, sea salt and cayenne pepper.

Rather than vigorously shaking the drink, Kilgore opted for a gentle swirl in the glass to preserve the flavor profile of the tomatoes. His freestyle drink included a refreshing-sounding blend of Solerno blood orange liqueur, Aperol, Absolut vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Coming in second was Seiter, who mans the bottles at Sanctuaria. He muddled an exotic combination of purple shiso, Matt's Wild cherry tomatoes, cucumber, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, gin, simple syrup and lemon and lime juices.

Rounding out the trio was what Nate Selsor of Monarch spontaneously called the "Tomato Alley," which blended Campari, chartreuse, vodka, gin, jalapeño, hybrid tomatoes, cucumber, basil and lemon juice.

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