A New York City man created a cocktail inspired by Key West’s signature Key lime pie to win a North American bartending contest.
Sam Benedict won the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic late Saturday with a vodka concoction he dubbed the “Key Key.” Flavored with juice from tiny yellow Key limes, it also contained other ingredients including coconut milk, pineapple juice, simple syrup, egg whites and bitters.
“Never having been to Key West, I had to do a lot of homework, and Key lime pie was my first stop,” said Benedict. “I started messing around with Key lime flavors and this is what I came up with.”
Benedict and other finalists, chosen during two elimination rounds that featured 14 regional champions, competed on an outdoor stage on Key West’s Duval Street.
A panel of judges including former NSYNC singer Lance Bass evaluated contestants’ cocktails on their appearance, aroma, balance and taste, as well as the bartender’s showmanship.
“I’m excited to crown a winner tonight,” Bass said. “We brought incredible bartenders from all around the country and it’s led to this moment today.”
As well as Bass, judges included former “American Idol” finalist LaToya London, comedy writer/actor Bruce Vilanch and Key West drag queen Sushi.
Benedict’s prizes include a $15,000 charitable donation to be made in his name.