A river ran through the fifth annual RiverTini Pour-Off Monday, but it wasn’t the San Antonio River. It was a river of Cinco Vodka.
Cinco Vodka provided the liquid basis for the martinis that hundreds of attendees sipped from several dozen restaurants and bars who had set up their drink stations in the downtown Embassy Suites.
There were martinis with chiles, martinis with pickles and martinis with fresh fruit.
And they were all martinis for a good cause, as the event is a fundraiser for the San Antonio River Foundation.
The bar at Jason Dady”s Tre Alamo Heights took advantage of the lengthy strawberry season to offer a berry-filled martini seasoned with fresh tarragon, while the Worm on the River Walk offered a strawberry martini with lime and a touch of simple syrup.
The folks from Ruth’s Chris Steak House used their blueberry gastrique as the basis for a robust drink while Chris Cook from Oro at the Emily Morgan Hotel used pickled jalapeños as a basis for a sweet-hot-tart treat. Bohanan’s Bar went with a soothing Five Pine Punch that had a welcome touch of clove on the finish.
NAO, the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant, was pouring a spicy sweet mix of lime juice, cilantro, cucumber and serrano pepper — and vodka, of course — in a cocktail that they’ll be serving for free from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday in honor of the Spurs games.
The martinis were given a good judging, after which it was announced that the top tini had come from Ocho at the Hotel Havana. The bar’s offering was the Cavender Martini, a lively mix of Brut Rosé, St-Germain and, of course, vodka.
In second place was Ocho’s neighbor at the event, the LoQal Bar at Q on the Riverwalk. The LoQal Martini featured ingredients from within 150 miles, starting with San Antonio’s own, Cinco. Other ingredients include Rio Grande Valley orange, Fredericksburg peach and blackberry, house-made vanilla syrup and Messina Hof Sparkling Wine.
In third place was the Cork Bar from the Hotel Contessa with a pear and keffir lime martini.
There were too many other treats for one liver during the course of the event, but I’ll close off with a recipe for Paesanos’ Cucumber Kicker, a summer thirst quencher and another drink that proudly uses local ingredients.
Paesanos’ Cucumber Kicker
1 ounce Cinco Vodka
1 ounce Republic Tequila
1 1/2 ounces St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
2 ounces cucumber purée
1 ounce fresh lime juice
3 slices fresh serrano pepper
Shake ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled glass rimmed with chile salt. Garnish with serrano pepper.
Makes 1 cocktail.