Kent trio pours it on in martini contest

Jeff Stevens’s “Fruit Cocktail

Three Kent-based contest winners are shaking (not stirring) things up on the new martini menu for Zephyr restaurants after their recipes were selected as finalists in a chain-wide contest.

New drinks created by bartenders Melissa Doll and Jeff Stevens, as well as a recipe submitted by customer Tara Lynne Ferguson (also a bartender, but not at Zephyr) were recently selected from more than 300 entries submitted by bartenders and patrons at Zephyr Bar and Grill restaurants in Kent and Livermore, Calif., and at Icon Grill in Seattle.

All three of the drinks are original creations.

Ferguson’s Candy Apple Cosmo was first submitted by her mother, Ronnie Kenny, who likes to stop in at the bar for a drink.

“We’ve been here a time or two,” Kenny said with a laugh. “It’s my ‘Cheers.'”

After hearing of the contest, Kenny submitted her daughter’s recipe, which includes vanilla vodka, fresh mottled lime and Sour Apple Pucker, and is topped with cranberry juice and garnished with carmel.

Ferguson said she first mixed the drink by accident when someone ordered an appletini and she mistakenly began making a cosmopolitan.

She offered the accidental mix to customers, who started then started asking for the drink on its own. Its sweet taste was an immediate hit.

“It’s like dessert,” Kenny said.

Doll’s submission, the Espressotini, came about because Zephyr does not offer energy drinks and some customers were looking for a pick-me-up. Doll first mixed the vanilla vodka, Kahluha, espresso and Godiva White Chocolate as an experiment. But the drink, which smells like coffee with a smooth, white chocolate aftertaste, quickly caught on.

“We have people coming in and asking for it all the time,” Doll said.

Stevens’ drink, the Fruit Cocktail, grew out of a way to use the pear vodka the bar had bought. Stevens mixed the vodka with Citron vodka, Midori Malibu, Apple Pucker and a splash of pineapple.

“I just kind of made a punch out of it and it turned out pretty good,” he said.

The resulting drink, a bright green and fruity concoction, packs more punch than a Long Island Iced Tea, according to Sevens, but “tastes like Kool Aid.”

According to spokesperson Krista Koster, the three winning recipes were among hundreds submitted. The top 22 recipes were submitted to a panel of industry judges at the chain’s Livermore store. There, the judges tasted the drinks and selected 10 unique recipes to be added to the martini menu.

The winners were invited to their local restaurants, where they were able to taste the new drinks, each paired with a food. The drinks also will grace the chain’s martini menu and can now be ordered at all three locations.

All three entrants said they knew their drinks would do well and that they look forward to watching others enjoy the beverages all through happy hours.

“I knew that was drink that was going to win,” Doll said.

The new martinis are available for $5 each during happy hour, 3 to 6 p.m., at Zephyr Grill and Bar in Kent Station.

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