Just in time for the inauguration, President-Elect Joe Biden’s hometown has a signature cocktail: The Wilmington.
The libation was created by Kate Gantner and Fazal Vandal, Trolley Square residents who beat expert mixologists, bartenders and other cocktail enthusiasts to win the crown.
The contest to name city cocktail, which garnered 25 submissions, was sponsored by Aviation American Gin and Wilmington It’s Time, a campaign that promotes Delaware’s largest city’s people, attractions and activities.
Tapp Network, a marketing agency, managed the campaign and employees Lauren Van Hise, content strategist, and Witt Godden, director of strategic marketing, were the hosts of the virtual award ceremony, held on Jan. 14 at Le Cavalier in the Hotel du Pont.
The contest had three critics’ choices, with the first-place prize earning the signature cocktail title. There were also people’s choice awards.
“We wanted to give Wilmington a voice,” Godden said.
Natasha Velez, a company mixologist, helped judge the contest, and entrants paid homage to Delaware in diverse ways.
“All the submissions were impressive and really showed off the flair and passion that Wilmington has to offer,” said Adrian Molina, senior brand manager for Aviation American Gin, who took the train from New York to Wilmington for the occasion.
For instance, one entry featured celery juice — a salute to Wilmington Blue Rocks’ mascot, Mr. Celery. Another spotlighted the strawberry, the state fruit.
Ganter and Vandal, both University of Delaware graduates, played up peaches, once a thriving agricultural industry in Delaware.
Along with peach-infused simple syrup and Aviation American Gin, the recipe includes lemon juice and a dusting of freshly ground cinnamon.
“Every spring and summer, I get peaches from the farmers market down the street from me,” explained Gantner, who with Vandal made the cocktail on the live stream. “So, I knew I wanted to do something with them.”
But peach-infused simple syrup and lemon alone made the flavor “too bright,” she said. She added cinnamon “to ground it.”
Jasmine Rochester took first place in the people’s choice awards, which landed nearly 20,000 votes. The self-professed “Bar Chief,” who has worked in area restaurants, jazzed up her take with rosemary-lavender simple syrup, lemon and tonic.
The Thursday event also featured Wilmington resident Sen. Sarah McBride, the country’s first transgender state senator.
“I regret not being able to be there and taste the drink,” she said from her office. “As someone who was born and raised here … there is no title I’m prouder to have than Wilmingtonian. This is truly a special city with a powerful history and vibrant diversity.
“After an incredibly difficult year and at a time when Wilmington is really at the center of the universe, there’s never been a better time to create a signature drink in our city’s honor.”
The Wilmington is available at Le Cavalier at the Hotel DuPont, and is expected to be available soon at other downtown restaurants.