Mike Flannery & Dale DeGroff  IMG_1077

All year long, top mixologists from around the world sent in their recipes interpreting the Singapore Sling to the Heering experts (who’ve all had countless slings of all manner). Of the incredible 700-plus submissions, last week in Berlin, only five remained: Ben Manchester of the United Kingdom mixing his “Rye Sling Star,” a sweet and saucy rye whiskey-based Sling; Juan Jose Maillo Garrido of Spain who created a deep and brooding Sling with whiskey called “Passage of Singapore;” AnneMarie Sagoi of Chicago with her brightly multi-layered gin-based “Bucktown Sling;” New York’s own Lucinda Sterling (of famed Mixology haunt, Middle Branch) serving her coquettishly complex gin based “Sterling Sling;” and also hailing from New York (and the man behind the Bar at APT 13), Michael Flannery who brought a bold and heady base of tequila with a mist of mescal in his “Highland Sling.”

  Mike Flannery 2  IMG_0775

These five masterful bartenders were flown out to Berlin to serve their brilliant Slings not only to an elite set of global judges, but also to the masses who had flocked to the enormous, world-class Bar Convention.

In a grueling four-hour session, the finalists mixed and poured mini versions of their Heering cocktails non-stop to the eager crowd of BCB-goers. The tasters then voted for their favorite, which was tallied as part of the overall score, later to be determined by the expert judges at the competition’s finale and party.

And, oh what a party.

IMG_1118  Mike Flannery

As if we didn’t already know that Heering was cool, they take us to one of the coolest cities on the planet and then just happen to throw a ridiculously fun party at an underground club that’s so “of the moment” that no one in Berlin has heard of it yet. Le Croco Bleu, an old factory space hidden down an alleyway (which spoke to my own Brooklyn heart) brought alive with a vibrantly chic design, made the perfect backdrop for the final event in the competition. One by one, each mixologist took center stage behind a tiny, DJ-booth-like, boxed-in bar, creating their Heering Slings in front of the judges and audience, while versions of their stellar creations were passed around.

As each sling demonstrated exceptional creativity and deliciousness, the judges certainly had their work cut out for them. In the end, there could be only one winner, and the honor went to our homeboy, Mike Flannery, and his brazenly boozy, dangerously tasty “Highland Sling” (see recipes on the Heering Facebook page).

However (and though it might sound cliché to say) everyone was a winner at the Peter F. Heering 2013 Heering Sling Competition finale in Berlin—none the least of which was me, tasting one remarkable sling after another, surrounded by the cocktail world’s elite, and intoxicated with great spirits in every sense of the word.

– Ava Fedorov