By Nicholas Johansen
A local bartender has put Kelowna on the map after taking home the silver at an international cocktail competition in Mexico.
After winning his regional Patron Perfectionists competition in Vancouver last year, followed up by the Canadian nationals in Toronto, Patron flew Kelowna's Jared Schmidt down to Jalisco, Mexico on Jan. 17 for the international finals, to compete against 20 other bartenders from around the world.
Schmidt has been bartending for about five years, getting his start working at nightclubs and sports bars part-time while he was in university. He's now a full-time bartender, and his dedication has clearly paid off.
He brought a taste of the Okanagan to Mexico, with his cocktail, It Takes a Valley.
“It's a marriage and harmony of flavours between the valleys and highlands of Jalisco, Mexico and the Okanagan Valley,” Schmidt told Castanet from a hotel room in Mexico City, where he's vacationing after a week of hard work.
His drink featured Patron Silver, organic verjus – acidic, unripe grape juice – from Kelowna's Summerhill Winery, Bénédictine infused with B.C. Gala apples, along with dry cider from Summerland's NOMAD Cidery.
The drink was clearly a hit with the judges. Schmidt made it into the Top 7 after the first day of competition Wednesday, along with competitors from Germany, America, the U.K., South Korea, Australia and the Philippines. After all was said and done Thursday, Schmidt was handed the silver medal, while the U.K.'s Giulia Cuccurullo took the top spot.
Schmidt says it has been “the craziest week” he's ever experienced. The competition was held at the Hacienda Patron, where all of Patron's tequila is distilled, and he was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the whole operation.
“It's all hand-labelled, hand-bottled, the agave is hand-harvested, so it's pretty incredible to see,” he said.
Those looking to get a taste of Schmidt's handiwork in Kelowna can find him at Jack's Pizza & Liquor downtown and Frankie We Salute You! on Highway 97.
Read more from Castanet