LaVoute takes the prize in Homewood Science Center’s chemistry drink challenge

 
Champagne, gin, liqueur, Thai tea and several special ingredients came together in a beautiful blend that won LaVoute Bistro the winning prize at the Homewood Science Center’s second annual Cocktail Chemistry Challenge on July 18. 
 
The fundraiser for HSC brought in $45,000 from ticket sales and silent auction prizes. Ravisloe Country Club was a beautiful setting enjoyed by more than 250 guests who sampled the four specialty drinks from Lassen’s Sports Bar & Grill, LaVoute Bistro, The Well at the Distillery and Copper Still Martini Bar & Lounge. 
 
This year’s challenge theme used the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Tang, a powdery instant orange drink, was what the astronauts got in space, so the four mixologists used varieties of citrus in their drink creations.
 
“They’re all different,” said Mary Ashley of Homewood.   “Lassen’s is so light and refreshing. LaVoute has all my favorite ingredients and The Well is delicious.” 
 
Halfway through the evening, Charlie Fetherling of Homewood said, “I think I’m right about to make a decision.  I think I like this one (The Well) because it’s sweet but adult enough.  I could enjoy it all night.” 
 
Shawn Rogers, general manager of LaVoute in downtown Homewood, said the contest parameters were pretty wide open. “We really had a free playground” which in some ways made it more difficult to come up with a tasty drink, he said. 
 
“Galileo’s Goblet” was created the day before the competition, but the staff at LaVoute spent “a lot of long nights staying up to figure out what we were going to do.”
 
When LaVoute was announced the winner, Rogers said many in the crowd came up and congratulated him, including his competitors.
 
“We’re friends with the other restaurants, too,” he said. “We’re just happy for the exposure.”
 
The Well at The Distillery in Thornton was a newcomer to the party with a “Mr. Lincoln” drink served by Brie Hornback and Jon Howell. Howell said since the drink was infused with rose and hibiscus, its name reflected Mr. Lincoln, the hybrid rose. 
 
The Well’s drink combined vodka, persimmon liqueur, ruby red grapefruit juice, with rose and hibiscus infused into the cocktail that was topped with mint.
 
“We’re so excited and honored to be here. It’s an amazing event,” Hornback said. “Everyone we’ve met from the Homewood Science Center we’ve become friends with.”
 
Lassen’s created “The Buzzed Aldrin” playing off the name of astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. Bartender Bill Ryan said he used the centers from navel, clementine and Valencia oranges and ruby red grapefruit juice and added vodka. To keep the drink cold and help carbonate it, he added dry ice that gave it a smoky presentation.
 
David McDermott of the Copper Still in downtown Homewood was busy making another batch of his "Blood Rose" drink when he recognized Amy Peto, his Homewood-Flossmoor High School chemisty teacher. They reminisced about his years at H-F.  
 
McDermott went back to his station to make his specialty martini using orange-tangerine vodka that’s gluten free, no sugar added, 80 proof and six times distilled. McDermott said the vodka is made locally. He added rosewater and lemon infused sparkling water, a blood orange mix, lemon-cranberry juice, culinary grade-A rose pedals, fresh squeezed lemon and an orange twist.
 
“That bartender’s amazing. He (McDermott) explained the entire way he processed the drink and then it tasted even better,” said Sue Messaglia of Homewood.
 
"Congratulations to Ilene LeRose, event chair, and Homewood Science Center board of directors secretary, for taking Cocktail Chemistry Challenge to the next level!  Just like 'Footsteps on the Moon' 50 years ago, we are proud that our mission connects our community to science and to each other," said Edie Dobrez, executive director of HSC.
 
Photos by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle.

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