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Meet Westchester’s Best Bartender — and His Winning Cocktail Creation

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The Guapo, the winning cocktail by Emilio Ugarte of RiverMarket | Photo by John Bruno Turiano

WM’s Wine & Food Fest toasts familiar faces in this year’s winner’s circle, with awards given for top bartender and burger in the region.

The Playland boardwalk was the setting for a new event at Westchester Magazine’s 10th Annual Wine & Food Fest: Party on the Pier. The, ahem, high point of the evening was the third Annual Bartender Shake-Off, which crowned a familiar champion. Emilio Ugarte, of RiverMarket Bar & Kitchen, achieved a three-peat this year, taking home another Best Bartender title with his drink The Guapo, named after his beloved Shiba Inu dog.

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The Guapo, the winning cocktail by Emilio Ugarte of RiverMarket | Photo by John Bruno Turiano

Ugarte’s competitors were four of Westchester’s best mixologists, who pour libations from every corner of the county. They represented X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (Yonkers), NoMa Social (New Rochelle), Polpettina (Eastchester), and Whiskey River (Peekskill). Each was tasked with creating a cocktail using Tito’s Vodka — a gluten-free vodka distilled in Texas, using some of the same methods to create high-end scotches and single-malt whiskeys.

Ugarte’s competitors were four of Westchester’s best mixologists, who pour libations from every corner of the county.

The build of the winning cocktail played off several bright flavor profiles. Beginning with its malleable Tito’s base, lemongrass-infused Soto Junmai sake was added, followed by yuzu extract, Rothman & Winter orchard apricot liquor, carrot-infused simple syrup, and scorched with a spiced peach flambé.

In celebration of this win and in support of food insecurity across Westchester County, RiverMarket will donate $1 to Feeding Westchester for every Guapo served up.

The masses of foodies attending the Wine & Food Festival’s Burger & Beer Blast have voted, and their choice came without surprise. Coals (Bronxville; coalspizza.com) is no stranger to the winner’s circle, capturing their fourth title as champion in the past five years. Their all-beef patty, sourced from NYC’s Piccinini Bros, was topped with cheddar cheese, Buffalo sauce, a generous scoop of guacamole, and pickled onions that gave the right amount of zing and snap.


Related: 5 Westchester County Bartenders All Cocktail Lovers Need to Know

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