The cocktails were flowing at the Victor Hotel in Chicago last night as three finalists from across the country showcased the fine craft of mixing cocktails at the 2012 Angostura U.S. Cocktail Challenge. Winner J.R. Starkus of RM Seafood, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev., was awarded $5,000 cash prize and a trip to Trinidad, where he will represent the U.S. in the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge in February 2013.

Finalists had only seven minutes to prepare their two unique cocktail creations – one with Angostura aromatic bitters and Angostura rum, and another with Angostura aromatic bitters and the liquor of their own choice. The event judges, including David Delaney Jr., last year’s North American and Global Cocktail Challenge Winner, evaluated each finalist on taste, creativity and presentation.

While Starkus walked away with the grand prize, the real winner of the night was the craft of the cocktail.  Angostura aromatic bitters looks forward to continuing to spotlight the brightest mixologists that create inventive cocktails for generations to come.

Please see below a list of the contestant’s hometown, establishment where they mix to perfection and the names of their cocktail creations. Interviews, recipes and event images are available upon request.

·         J.R. Starkus from RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, Nev. (WINNER)

o   Cocktails: Long Road Home and The Third Voyage

·         Sean Frederick from Citizen Public House in Boston, Mass.

o   Cocktails: Broadside and Steelpan Swizzle
       Alex Renshaw from Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago, Ill.

o   Cocktails: Selective Hearing and Straight to Voicemail