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WINNER Tina Ross


Tina Ross has been behind the bar for eight years. She has put in her time at a wide range of places including dive bars, some of the best craft cocktail bars in San Francisco, at the bar love of her life (Harvard & Stone) and even at an Outback Steakhouse. She loves everything about being behind a bar: the creativity allotted to her, the ability to overcome her naturally shy nature, and the thrill of efficiently executing craft cocktails in a high-volume atmosphere.

The VEEV Better Way To Drink Bartender Challenge

Some of my favorite competitions are the ones where you have free reign over cocktail ingredients. The VEEV BWTD Bartender Challenge had one restriction: USE VEEV. VEEV has such an interesting and complex profile, that utilizing it as a complementing flavor really allowed for imagination and creativity; each of the semi-finalist recipes were so incredibly unique that I honestly didn’t know who the Grand Prize winner would be. Once the four of us were announced and asked to create a video on “How We Are Creating a Better Way to Drink,” I initially celebrated the win, then quickly got nervous because the idea of creating a video on my skill set or why I deserve to win is incredibly intimidating. So as a result of my apprehension, I decided to make the video in a manner that would allow me to be creative, but in an entertaining way. Is it serious, is it a joke? Well, it’s a little bit of both and I thrive in this comfort zone.

What does Drinking Better mean to you?

“Drinking Better” means exploring the potential of flavor combinations but its also enjoying the experience of drinking. Referencing culinary culture allows me to embrace interesting flavor combinations, while also utilizing ingredients that are more approachable to the guest. In addition, drinking should be fun, that’s primarily why we do it. A lot of pretense has been placed in “the world of mixology” that I think is unnecessary. One of the greatest things I’ve learned was from Anthony Schmidt during one of his GSC seminars: don’t stump the guest, make the menu read well. For instance, instead of listing “orgeat” list “almond syrup.” All of these reasons have allowed me to create a Better Way to Drink.

Advice to bartenders wanting to mix with VEEV?

My best advice for bartenders who want to mix with VEEV is to embrace the existing flavors of this spirit. Figure out a way to compliment and enhance the roundness and fruitiness of the acai. Work with it, don’t cover it up with too heavy of juices or accenting liqueurs. Think herbs, carbonation, light citrus, etc..

Describe VEEV

Solid on it’s own, but also fantastic to use as a spirit-based modifier in a cocktail.

What do you hope to learn working with Willy Shine at Tales?

His methodology. Willy Shine is knowledgeable about quality spirits, classic cocktail recipes and has been in our industry through the re-introduction of modern craft cocktails. I would love to pick his brain and learn his methodology about how he interprets the flavors of spirits for use in a cocktail or how he utilizes classic cocktail recipe structure for the creation of new cocktails.


Winning Cocktail: The Golden Light

Recipe by Tina Ross


1 1/2 oz. Coconut Oil Fat-Washed VEEV

1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 oz. Giffard Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur (Grapefruit-Rose Liqueur)

1/4 oz. Simple Syrup

6 Thai Basil Leaves

Combine ingredients in shaker and lightly muddle basil. Shake and double strain over ice. Add .5 oz of soda water. Garnish with Thai Basil Flower.


Directions for Coconut Oil Fat-Washed VEEV:

Prepare infusion the night before use. Combine one 750ml bottle of VEEV with one 14 oz. jar of melted unrefined coconut oil. Stir ingredients together in a shallow pan for 30-60 seconds. Place pan in a freezer overnight. As the liquid chills, the coconut oil will separate from the VEEV, allowing for easy removal of the solid layer of coconut oil. Remove the coconut oil the next morning and allow liquid to reach room temperature before serving.

Directions for Simple Syrup:

Combine (by equal weight) water to sugar.


Thai Basil Spring (with Flower if Possible)


Rocks Glass


This cocktail is inspired by the neighborhood surrounding Harvard & Stone, known as “Thai Town”. I love visiting the local markets and exploring odd ingredients to use in the cocktails that I create. Drawing from the acai flavor of VEEV, I aimed to add some roundness by incorporating the coconut oil, and I also accented the fruit-forward flavor with the addition of grapefruit and rose. Thai basil is a sweeter basil that adds a slight earthiness, spice and warmth to the juicy cocktail. The addition of soda water adds an effervescence and lightness that lets the flavors really dance. I believe it’s important to understand the flavors you are working with by creating a recipe where each flavor works together in harmony but also stands out on its own. Finding inspiration from your surroundings, lifestyle, or particular tastes allows you to fully explore creating a recipe with passion.

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