By Associated Press - Sunday, July 12, 2015

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - Months of competition between local bartenders came to an end when Nilo Badua was declared the first-place winner of the Kauai Mai Tai Bartender’s Challenge.

Badua was declared victorious Friday after a four-hour final competition at the Sheraton Kauai Resort, The Garden Island reported ( ).

“My passion is making drinks,” said Badua, who entered the contest representing Kalapaki Joe’s but now mixes drinks at Trees Lounge. He hopes to eventually own his own bar.

The Friday-night showdown between Badua and his friend, Duke’s bartender Alika Mayer, was close. After the guests voted, the scores were so tight that the judges had them make a specialty drink as a tie-breaker.

The drinks were scored on taste, balance and creativity. Badua’s mai tai racked up 273 points while Mayer’s earned 247 points.

Poipu resident Beth Kauwe said Mayer’s Alii Mai Tai won her over.

“It’s got like a lavender and pineapple minty kind of flavor, it’s not too sweet,” she said. “It’s kind of all together, leveled out and balanced really well.”

For the Alii, Mayer used Koloa Spiced Rum, Koloa Coconut Rum, homemade lavender falernum, caramelized pineapple puree, passion fruit, lime juice, Koloa Rum sorbet, pineapple and mint.

But Badua was able to edge Mayer’s drink out with his Plantation Mai Tai, named for his family’s journey from the Philippines to Hawaii to work for the sugarcane plantations.

“This mai tai competition goes way back and it’s for my family,” he said.

He used Mount Gay Rum, lemongrass simple syrup, fresh lime juice, falernum, sugarcane juice, Whaler’s Rum, a sugarcane stick and lemongrass.

“It’s Kalapaki Joe’s, nice balance of flavors,” said Lihue resident Jim Dennis. “No flavor overwhelms a flavor. It’s really nice.”

The score-settling challenge required the contestants to make a drink using fruit soursop, Hawaiian chili peppers and B&B liqueur. Badua impressed judges with his version of a matador mojito, earning 70 points to Mayer’s 50.

“Nilo’s started off really hot and really boozy but as the ice melted it started getting better,” said judge Jacob Vogelgesang, food and beverage manager of the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

For emerging triumphant from a field of 10 bartenders, Badua will get a two-night oceanfront stay in a suite at the Sheraton.


Information from: The Garden Island,

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