One thing Deb Murphy and Greg Andrews recently discovered is that creating a new mixed drink can take some time, but it sure is a lot of fun. The fact that their invention also took top honors in an international drink making contest is just icing on the cake. Or maybe that should be sugar on the rim?
Murphy and Andrews have a thing for what Andrews calls Poly Pop - anything to do with Polynesian culture. Anyone who has been in his downtown Bellows Falls shop, The Hula Cat, knows what he means. Filled with an eclectic blend of used and vintage clothing, leather jackets and objects, it has a huge collection of Hawaiian shirts.
Murphy and Andrews share that interest with a large group that recently got together for a two day, Dole Pineapple-sponsored international cocktail making contest event at the last 60's era Tiki-style hotel in America, at Lake George, NY. About 200 Poly Pop aficiendos attended, and 20 competed, including professional bartenders, bar owners and mixologists from all around the US and abroad.
The event included a room crawl where participants get a chance to taste many of the entrees. Andrews said that some guests arrive days in advance to completely re-decorate their rooms in a variety of Polynesian themes. He also said that, if you're not careful, the room crawl can become literally true.
The drink had to use as many Dole products as possible, and it took Murphy and Andrews a month of experimentation to come up with the final product - see the sidebar for the recipe. They started with rum as the base, and knew they wanted to include a slice of pineapple floating on the top with a flame in the center. When they first lit the flame they found the name for the drink as "fire in the hole" became Fire in the Dole.
The only way they could get the pineapple to float was to put the ingredients in a blender and turn the drink into a slushie, a drizzle of cherry syrup around the rim adding a lava effect to the flaming, frozen concoction, and the combination of flame, slurpie and Dole in the name gave Fire in the Dole the top honors.
"There were some serious competitors there," said Andrews. "We're not. We're having fun."
Presentation is part of the competition, and the couple dressed for the part, presenting the drink in a decorated metal box to protect the flame from the wind, and using dry ice to play up the volcano effect.
Though competing against professional mixers and drinks with names like Jaded Passion, Mist Over Kilauea, Pugalicious, Ginger and Mary Ann and Golden Goodness, Fire in the Dole took the day.
"It was a lot of fun," Murphy concluded about the experience.