Tracker Pixel for Entry

2015 Cocktail Showdown

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cocktail Showdown | October 14th, 2015

Usher's House, Mezzaluna and Boiler Room are Week 1 visits


It’s the dawn of the seventh annual HPR cocktail showdown. With at least 30 participating bars seeking the same goal and asking the same question: Who makes the best drink in town? Where the drinks are stiff and the competition is stiffer. Three fearless judges enter the ring judging one shot and one cocktail at each establishment rating them 1-10 in three categories: presentation, flavor and creativity. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

During week one we visited Andrew Hardy at Usher’s House, Todd Snelling at Mezzaluna and Davin Henrik with Nick Harr at The Boiler Room and this is what we were presented with.

Usher’s House

Usher’s house is located at 700 1st Ave. N in Moorhead in a beautiful WPA-era stonework building along the mighty Red River. Usher’s not only features one of the area’s most picturesque patios but also utilizes two separate unique dining areas. Their menu features not only dinner options but also pub fare including shepherd's pie, fish and chips, an array of appetizers and many other options. Their cocktail menu exhibits a collection of signature and seasonal cocktails, signature martinis and a mighty fine wine list.

The shot: The Notorious

The creator: Andrew Hardy

The Notorious gets its name for the Dublin-born MMA fighter Conor McGregor who is also known as The Notorious. The shot contains Pernod absinthe, Drambuie, Frangelico, Chambord and orange juice, and had a pleasant anise heavy aroma. Hardy’s shot lives up to its name because after a few it’s sure to knock you out.

The Drink: LaLaurie

The Creator: Andrew Hardy

The LaLaurie was named after the New Orleans-born socialite cum serial killer and sadist Delphine LaLaurie. If the name sounds familiar, she was portrayed by Kathy Bates in the third season of the television show “American Horror Story.”

This cocktail was inspired by a visit to New Orleans while Hardy was on his honeymoon. For this smoky classic cocktail, Hardy used a smoking gun and filled a decanter with hickory smoke for a more pronounced flavor. The overall preparation was a treat in itself to watch. The cocktail utilized orange juice squeezed before our eyes, Chartreuse, Patron, clove syrup, honey, angostura bitters and a “shrub” created by Hardy.

A shrub is an acidulated beverage and originated prior to the use of refrigeration. It was a way of preserving fruit long after it had been picked. Hardy’s shrub contains blackberries, sugar and apple infused in a cider vinegar. We must also add that it is garnished with a roasted pear to enhance the smokiness.

Mezzaluna

Mezzaluna is located at 309 Roberts St. N. They boast fine artisan cocktails and fare. They feature both a dining menu and a superb list of Alley Fare for both late night and happy hour specials, featuring their fine hand-ground burgers, baked brie, savory soup and more. The building itself has a fine urban aesthetic in which you can enter from the street or alley. The decor is classic yet contemporary with its signature clamshell booths. Be sure to check out their signature cocktails and impressive wine list.

The shot: Ala Louisiana

The creator: Taylor Snelling

Ala Louisiana was inspired by the Sazerac, which some claim is America’s oldest-known cocktail. The main ingredient is Bulleit rye. Add angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters and a theatrical absinthe flambe flourish that will leave fellow barflies open mouthed and awed. The name came from the origins of the main ingredient, Bulleit rye ala New Orleans, La.

The Drink: Nectar d’or

The Creator: Taylor Snelling

The name of Nectar d’or came from the gold coloration and palette-pleasing sweetness and also serves as a play on the use of a honey-based simple syrup. The drink contains Opihr (a spiced oriental gin), Licor 43 (a Spanish liqueur with hints of citrus and vanilla), Benedictine, basil, yuzu puree, honey simple syrup and a chartreuse rinse and a basil garnish. This particular cocktail was inspired by “The bee’s knees,” a cocktail that is one of the house’s signature cocktails. Nectar d’or is served in a coupee glass to prevent dilution.

The Boiler Room

The Boiler Room is located at 210 N Broadway. Whether you enter through the front or back alley, you’re getting to the bottom of Broadway. If you opt to enter through the alley the patio is definitely worth noting in the warmer months. The Boiler Room has an extensive menu starting with breakfast and ending at late night. The drink menus are equally impressive and the beer list is as long as the wine list, and do we dare mention the roster of signature cocktails?

The Shot: The Midorable

The Creator: Nick Harr

The Midorable came about when Harr was experimenting with the melon-flavored liqueur Midori. The Midorable contains Cock n’ Bull cherry ginger beer, Skinos (a Mediterranean aperitif), lemon juice and cranberry juice. The shot is served in a 4 oz cocktail glass and is a shot to sip on. It is a layered shot and the Midori sinks to the bottom -- not only is it sweet-tart-n-tasty but it’s cute too. Hence the name.

The drink: Bizon Refresher

The creator: Davin Henrik

The Bizon Refresher pays homage to our hometown heroes … the Bison. It contains 2 Docks vodka, Midori, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, mango syrup and a shot of water to smooth out the syrup. It is garnished with an oh-so-slightly smoked basil leaf to add a bit of aroma and is served in a tall glass. It lives up to its name with the classic green and gold coloration and serves as Henrik’s take on the classic mojito.

Recently in:

BISMARCK– The debate over whether the state needs an ethics commission has been ongoing for years, four times defeated by the legislature. This year, however, concerned citizens turned to the power of the initiated measure, and…

There will be a rocking event on coming this Thursday called Night Bazaar by Folkways. Night Bazaar is an event highlighting the community with a full spectrum of unique experiences, food, music, art and performances. Night Bazaar…

Thursday, August 23, 5-6:30 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. NDr. Craig Howe, Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), will lead an art and poetry workshop in conjunction with the…

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable,…

Well, Mr. President, Have You No Sense Of Decency Sir, At Long Last?We might have another flag debate in this country. We still see the Confederate symbol flying in activities promoted by white supremacists on the streets of…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

By Ben Myhre benmyhre35@gmail.com If you are a gardener in the area, you know that this is the time of year when zucchini becomes plentiful. In fact, many have a tough time using all of it. You may see just a small little zucchini…

Woodstock: even people who were born years after the original three-day music festival recognize the name. The event, which took place between August 15th and 18th at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in southern New York and attracted…

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman.…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

By Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.comAs I stared out of Guthrie Theater’s Amber room at a bird’s eye of the cityscape and river below, I hardly took in the night lights, my mind was too focused on the art I had just…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

When I was first introduced to the traditional spirit of my ancestors, Akvavit (or aquavit), I never thought I’d ever find myself standing next to a giant “Viking” ship while comparing different brands of the “water of…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on October…