PAU Maui Vodka has announced Luis Hernandez of Brooklyn, New York, as the winner of their inaugural bartending competition, Road to Maui, that took place in Maui, Hawaii, on September 23rd, 2019. PAU Maui, a gluten-free vodka made from pineapple, invited all U.S. bar professionals to submit an original cocktail recipe for a chance to be one of six finalists to fly to Maui for the competition and a three-day immersive experience. As the grand prize, Hernandez will receive an-all-expenses-paid trip to Portland Cocktail Week, and a video of him making his winning cocktail published on the world’s largest craft-cocktail community, Licensed to Distill.
The Road to Maui competition was created to celebrate the increased distribution PAU Maui Vodka has received, by sharing the brand’s homeland and seed-to-bottle story with bartenders from all over the U.S. “This competition was incredible,” said Luis Hernandez, Head Bartender at Lost Hours. “We got to learn about how PAU Maui represents the spirit of Maui through the people, the food, and nature. It was amazing to feel the culture, history and the embrace of the PAU Maui family in welcoming us in such a short period of time, and I cannot wait to return to Maui and to see my new family.” In addition to having his “Breath of Life” cocktail forever as a PAU Maui Vodka signature serve, Hernandez will be introducing it to the attendees of Portland Cocktail Week’s Brown & Balanced event on November 10, 2019.
The competition’s six finalists, each from one of six major regions, were tasked with creating an original cocktail and story based on what paradise means to them, as well as how they relate and apply the brand’s passion for sustainability in their own bartending practices. “Road to Maui turned out to be an incredible cocktail competition,” stated Jabin Troth, Founder of Licensed to Distill. “It was the most difficult competition I have judged thanks to 6 phenomenal bartenders who each brought their own interpretation of paradise expressed in a cocktail. While we had to pick one winner, everyone who enjoyed the full PAU Maui Vodka experience on the island of Maui felt like they had won.” Other judges included Neil LeVecke, founder of PAU Maui Vodka and CEO of LeVecke Wine, Beer & Spirits, Chef Sheldon Simeon of Top Chef and restaurants Lineage and Tin Roof, Erin “Roxy” Bunda of Young’s Market Hawaii, and blind judging by Michael West, Mixologist of LeVecke Wine, Beer & Spirits.
In addition to competing, the finalists received a lifetime opportunity to travel to the island of Maui for an exclusive look into the brand’s history and to experience Hawaii’s heritage. Following a jaunt through the Maui Gold Pineapple Farm on a vintage farm bus, where they sampled the fresh-cut pineapple PAU Maui Vodka is made from, they headed across the road to Hali’imaile Distilling Company where they followed second-generation Master Distiller, Cory Nigbur, through the process of crafting vodka from pineapple mash.
About PAU Maui Vodka: Crafted in Upcountry Maui on the slopes of Haleakala at Hali’imaile Distilling Company, PAU Maui Vodka is a true seed-to-bottle spirit made with Hawaiian spring water and the universal symbol of hospitality, the pineapple. PAU Maui Vodka owns its source, ensuring quality from the planting of the Maui Gold pineapples, to the bottling line and beyond. It is a purposeful product, distilled in ways that nurture the Earth and support local and international sustainability initiatives. This unique craft spirit can be found in Hawaii and on the Mainland at select grocers and restaurants, online at ReserveBar.com in select states, or by visiting paumaui.com.