Who’s Vermont’s Best Bartender?

This past April, mixologists from around Vermont competed in a cocktail-shaking show at Stowe’s Rusty Nail. At play: the title Vermont Bartender of the Year. The competition, sponsored by Hotel VT, the Vermont Distillers Association and VT SKI + RIDE, was broken into two rounds. In the first, each bartender was assigned a Vermont-made spirit. Sydney Stockmann of Pizzeria Verità in Burlington got gin from Stonecutters Distillery. “I was pumped, because it’s so easy to use,” she said. “It goes well with everything.”

She mixed the gin with chartreuse, lime, a shaken egg white, muddled strawberries and simple syrup, and forged into the second round.

Round two was more of a challenge: each bartender was tasked with making a cocktail using several mystery ingredients. In the basket: Caledonia Spirits’ Tom Cat Gin, a mild tea syrup, loose leaf tea, Sour Patch Kids candy and papaya.

“The competition really tests your ability to make something on the spot,” Stockmann said. She picked out the blue Sour Patch Kids and muddled them with the papaya, tossing the resulting liquid in with the gin, chartreuse, lime juice, tea syrup and tea bag and served it up, winning the judges’ hearts and the contest by result.

Stockmann has been bartending for six years at Pizzeria Verità, but you probably won’t see Sour Patch Kids listed as an ingredient on the cocktail menu.

If you can’t make it to Pizzeria Verità, sample Stockmann’s style by making the Twisted Hopp at home.


2 oz. Smugglers’ Notch Hopped Gin
0.75 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz rosemary simple syrup (see recipe below) 3 dashes Angostino bitters
Topped with Switchback Citra Pils

To make the simple syrup, heat 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup water and a sprig of rosemary on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Let the rosemary sit in the syrup for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove. Build drink by adding the ingredients in a Collins glass, with ice last. Top with Switchback Citra Pils. ‘Roll’ with the beer a few times. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.