© McCall Mastroianni
Sound Table's Paul Calvert mixes his award-winning drink. Sure, there were an amazing, and absurd, amount of tomato (and bacon) dishes at the Second Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival in Atlanta. The 26 chefs were mostly from the area, but a bunch road-tripped in: Birmingham’s Chris Hastings, Charleston’s Mike Lata and Oxford, Mississippi’s John Currence, among others. (The fan favorite for Best Tomato Dish, though, was from local chef Keira Moritz at Pacci Ristorante's, who served absolutely adorable mini cones filled with heirloom tomato–peach and tomato-basil ice creams.)
But now, let's talk about the eight brilliant mixologists who got their hands on tomatoes and went crazy. They faced off in a Cocktail Shakedown, with two minutes each to make a tomato-inflected drink. Each one deserves praise, but here were the winners that we (the judges) picked:
Best-Tasting Drink: Sound Table’s La Mancha. Paul Calvert pureed roasted heirloom tomatoes and agave syrup, then shook the puree with tequila, mezcal and basil to make a wonderfully smoky drink.
Best Presentation: Leon’s Full Service’s Golden Ticket. For his excellent rum drink sweetened with homemade tomato jam, Miles Macquerie made beautiful, big ice cubes, poured the drinks into great-looking snifters and garnished them with brandied cherries speared on glass cocktail picks decorated with a cute little rooster.
Most Creative: Abbatoir’s Mason Dixon Sangrita. I know Brian Stanger didn’t invent the sangrita. But certainly it was creative and ingenious that he watched Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to get inspired for his tasty cocktail made with tomato juice, chile sauce and pomegranate juice, chased with a shot of tequila.
Fan Favorite: Miller Union’s Electric Boogaloo. Cara Ludino muddled tomato into her elegant daiquiri-like drink and garnished it with freshly ground pepper.