Did this: Ocean Vodka’s Ultimate Cocktail Showdown

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Last year, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa had their first Ocean Vodka cocktail recipe contest and had an intimate, sit-down dinner with their finalists and a handful of people. I’m sure it was nice, but in keeping with the fabulous events the Sheraton usually puts on, this year was an all-out bash with six chefs, six mixologists, and 1,500 people. Since our very own Will Chen was one of those celebrity chefs, there was no question that Olena Heu and I had to tag along to cover it.

The chefs were paired with a finalist mixologist and were challenged to figure out a dish that would pair with the winning cocktail. Then somehow Olena and I rose to the challenge of maneuvering through 1,500 people to get you photos of those dishes and drinks:

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Amie Fujiwara made a cocktail called Wai’ona: Ocean Vodka, Hawaiian Ginger simple syrup, Fresh lime, Local Mango, 6 Mint leaves 3 Basil leaves & Coconut Crème

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Migrant Maui chef Sheldon Simeon paired it with Ay Kudeshi garlic noodles and Tocino sweet pork.

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James Shoemaker made a Pineapple Express: Ocean Organic Vodka, Fresh lemon juice, Upcountry Honey, Maui Farm fresh Thai basil, Maui Gold pineapple & Gossling’s Ginger beer. Click here to see a short video of him making it.

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Hank Adaniya, who has a Hank’s Haute Dogs concession at the Sheraton Maui now, brought his lobster sausage dog to match it.

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One of our favorite cocktails was Ocean Vodka’s National Contestant, Daniel Vincent, who flew in from Texas to present the cucumber cooler: Ocean Vodka, cucumber diced, pineapple diced, pineapple juice, Agave, Pinch of Chinese five spice, Pinch of Cinnamon, 6 leaves of Cilantro, Seltzer, Squeeze of lime wedge and Ice. This was very refreshing. Lee Anne Wong expertly paired it with a spicy lamb larb. Hands down, a perfect pairing.

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Allison Bellows created Pele’s Pineapple: Ocean Vodka, Combier L’orange, 2 Lime wedges, Coconut Water, Pineapple Juice, Serrano Pepper, Handful of Cilantro & 2-3 Cubes of fresh Pineapple.

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Will paired it with braised pork belly with pineapple salsa and a fried risotto ball, one of our favorite dishes of the night.

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This fancy drink is a Napili Tini by Victor Mendoza: Ocean Vodka, Muddled Watermelon, Napili Flo Liliko’i, Coconut Water & a Splash of Soda Water.

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Shawn Gavin of the St. Regis Princeville made poke bites with tiny watermelon cubes to match. Cute!

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Maui’s Jen Russo, who was a judge that night, is holding our favorite drink of the night, Ross Steidel’s Salty Poi Dog: Ocean Vodka, Thai Basil & Black Peppercorn Syrup, Yuzu Citrus, Fresh Squeezed Pomelo or Grapefruit Juice, Kosher Salt and Black Pepper Rim — it tasted like POG. (When Olena wasn’t looking, drank half her drink, too!)

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Brandon Lee from Pig & The Lady made a local tomato salad with sorrel burnt strawberry vinaigrette, fried bread, and grated white chocolate. Chocolate? Yes. And yum. Click here to see him making it.

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The winners were:

  • Best Pairing – Lee Anne Wong and Daniel Vincent
  • Best Dish – Hank’s Haute Dogs
  • Best Cocktail – Ross Steidel’s Salty Poi Dog

Each of the winning teams were paired with a charity, and each charity benefitted from the prize money won for them.

These were just the highlights. To see more photos, click here.

Mahalo to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa for hosting our stay this weekend!