Town Talk Diner wins Iron Bartender--again! We talk with one of the champions

A creation at Town Talk Diner. The team won with ingredients like lavender vapor, avocado, and fire
A creation at Town Talk Diner. The team won with ingredients like lavender vapor, avocado, and fire

Last night, the Town Talk Diner team held onto its crown as Iron Bartender--their second consecutive win. The competition, held at Hell's Kitchen each Sunday since May 2, pitted the Cities' best bartenders--including teams from Bradstreet, Saffron, and Porter and Frye--in an Iron Chef-type battle with crazy mystery ingredients and limited time on the clock to create.

The Hot Dish spoke with Adam Harness from the Town Talk team to get his take on the events:

What was the winning cocktail? A lavender fennel old-fashioned with candied fennel and orange peel garnish. We also used a vaporizer to puff lavender vapor as the judges imbibed.

What was the toughest ingredient you had to work with? Probably avocado, because it is so thick and nutty. We used cream, rum, simple syrup, cilantro, Anaheim peppers, and of course avocado to make a ice cream. We used liquid nitrogen to freeze everything. It was served in a martini glass with a pickled pineaple stick with sliced Anaheim and cilantro.

What was the weirdest ingredient? Fire. However, after the 15-minute round started, we realized how freeing that ingredient is. So we used vapor and fire. We flamed Bitter Cube Blackstrap bitters and overproof rum on our last cocktail.

What was the most stressful moment of the competition? Every moment was stressful up until the final win. We would start thinking, "Are we overthinking or not thinking enough?"

What do you see as the next cocktail trends? There are a lot of "fresh" ingredients going into cocktails these days. Whether it is fresh juice to something you just picked from the garden. The sky is the limit these days for ingredients too. The direction many places are going would have to be the classics with modern-day spins. Utilizing methods like force carbonation, vacuum infusions, and so on and so forth really step up the bar of what will be the next hottest thing. Molecular mixology and a chef-forward mindset seems to be the easy answer to that.

Final thoughts on the competition? Peder Schweigert and I couldn't have done it without the help of the kitchen staff. We all put a lot of time and energy into it. It feels good to keep the title of Iron Bartender.

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Town Talk Diner - Closed

2707 1/2 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406


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