Over the weekend, Phoenix's bartending scene earned some major bragging rights at the world Mai Tai competition in Kona, Hawaii -- especially since the winner Michael Soo was the first mainlander to nab a win at the event since it began in 2009. Soo's cocktail scored high on aroma, taste, appearance, and creativity, which got him the grand prize of $10,000.
Soo, one of Bar Crudo's newest all-star bartender acquisitions, mixed up his take on a passion fruit-filled Mai Tai called the A Hui Hou (or Until We Meet Again). His drink, topped with orchids and a passion fruit foam, wowed Phoenix judges with its beautiful presentation and it seems that same visually stunning display worked to his favor in Kona at the Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival last Saturday too.
"This drink is meant to be enjoyed on the beach, with some light appetizers, or just in the comfort of one's own home," Soo's drink description read. "Mai Tai originated from 'Maita'i,' the Tahitian word for 'good,' but this drink will leave you thinking it is 'No Ka Oi' or 'The Best'."
The contest selected 21 contestant's recipes, all using Sammy's Beach Bar rum, from around the world and pitted the finalists against each other in a mix off. Soo's took home top honors at the Royal Kona Resort and earned him a $10,000 check. Hopefully some of that prize money will go to opening a Phoenix tiki bar. Here's hoping.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.