Tonight we gather to drink the four tastiest entries into the Magnificent Bastard Cocktail Contest. These are all great cocktails that we will be mixing regularly, but only one can win. Here's a preview:
How they got there: The Bryan Swanson may have had the most up and down tourney so far. It was handed an early victory by a lackluster Brian Lee, but then topped the John Dietl, a notable cocktail that may have only lost because it's too seasonal.
Why you might bet on it: In a word, "drinkability." Also, don't overlook the sturdiness to the presentation. The straightforward, "give it to me in rocks glass" approach strikes a strong MB chord.
Why you might not: The downside of being so easily drinkable may mean that it lacks the depth that's required to be considered the MB cocktail.
How they got there: The Matt Hamlin is the only cocktail not to have had an easy 5-0 victory along the way, mainly due to coming out of what might have been the most competitive bracket, Simplicity. Perhaps this has prepared it for the challenges ahead.
Why you might bet on it: This could be called a Mezcal Rob Roy, always an MB standard. Also, its mix of the New World and Old World has been called brilliant by some judges.
Why you might not: The quality mezcal makes this cocktail, but also introduces some risk. The smokiness is very reminiscent of a good single malt, but this isn't appreciated by all judges.
How they got there: Of the remaining four, this cocktail probably had the easiest first two matchups which were both too perfumey to be seriously considered. It then showed it deserved to be in the Final Four by beating the well balanced Matt Konrad.
Why you might bet on it: Though the XH came out of the Heritage bracket, it might best adhere to the MB's "classic with a twist" style. It's a new take on the always bastardly Sazerac. Rye Whiskey > Bourbon / Absinthe > Chartreuse / Sugar Cube > Simple Sugar / Peychaud's = Peychaud's / Lemon Twist > Orange Twist.
Why you might not: The strong, unique taste of this cocktail may mean it could be beat out by the smoothness and drinkability in the other Final Four cocktails.
CARIE L. FULLER
How they got there: This cocktail has had the easiest route to the Final Four. It has beat some at their own game (Tom Brown), and easily surpassed aftershave stand-ins like the Akio Katano. Though it beat the David McCabe 5-0 in the round of the Elite Eight, this may have been due to the McCabe being too seasonal (summer).
Why you might bet on it: It might be hard to bet against a cocktail that is 15-0. Among the finalists, it is best on the nose, and its complexity of flavors might be hard to match.
Why you might not: The CLF is by far the fussiest of the remaining cocktails. We've been enjoying flaming the orange peel over the cocktail, but this may get old after a couple of hundred, a valid criterion to what will ultimately be the MB Cocktail. In short, is this a big flash, or a flash in the pan?