Averna Cocktail Competition Names Don Lee Winner

After a grueling competition in picturesque Taormina, Sicily, wounded New
York based mixologist takes home the grand prize with ‘La Cola Nostra’

Sept. 16, NEW YORK, NY –
After months of anticipation, meticulous planning
and stiff competition amongst some of the best bartenders in the nation, Don
Lee was named the winner of the first-ever Averna HAVE A NEW LOOK Cocktail

“On the day that I was scheduled to fly to Sicily, I got into a severe
bicycle accident and was rushed to a local emergency room.  Doctors
confirmed that I had fractured my left wrist.  Unfazed I boarded the last
flight to Sicily on standby and arrived in Taormina just hours before the
faceoff,” said Don Lee who emerged victorious with only one good hand.  Lee
took home the winning title and the grand prize of $1,500, courtesy of

On Friday, September 12th, five mixologists from around the United States
battled for the grand prize on the beautiful terrace of Hotel Capo Taormina,
overlooking the Sicilian Ionian Sea. The contestants’ recipes were all
original, with the only requirement being that the cocktail HAVE Averna
Amaro as the base ingredient.  Each contestant was given five minutes to
create his or her cocktail.  Points were awarded based on presentation,
technique, originality, taste and ease of preparation. The judges came from
Italy and England and included Charles Venexat, Izzie Knolles, Steve
Manketelow, Giles Looker, Umberto Caselli, and Francesco Rosario Averna.

“I am very pleased to see the quality of our product enhanced by the expert
hands of the mixologists who took part in the competition.  Thanks to
Averna’s mixability, they’ve created an art form that has opened new
frontiers for our traditional Averna Amaro,” said Francesco Rosario Averna,
the fourth-generation C.E.O. of Averna and one of the judges in the
competition.  Averna Amaro, Italy’s favorite digestivo and Sicily’s oldest
licensed spirit, has been discovered as of late by American and
international mixologists as a great mixing tool and versatile spirit for
cocktails.  This is the first cocktail competition that Averna has ever done
and the result was an artful blend of the cocktail trend in the United
States paired with Sicilian history.

This final round was a culmination of a nine month long competition process
and anticipation that involved bar chefs throughout the U.S.  Over two
hundred original recipes were submitted through Averna’s USA website
(www.avernausa.com) from January 1st-March 31st.  Out of 30 semi finalists
from across the country, a total of five finalists were chosen during three
regional competitions that took place in San Francisco, Miami and New York
this past April.  Finalists included Jeff Hollinger of Absinthe Brasserie
and Bar and Thomas Waugh of Alembic Bar in San Francisco; Debbi Peek of the
Drawing Room at Le Passage in Chicago and Damon Dyer of Flatiron Lounge and
Don Lee of Please Don’t Tell (PDT) in New York. The group traveled to Sicily
and was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit spectacular
Taormina and Caltanissetta.  While Sicily as a backdrop was breath taking,
the opportunity to visit the Averna distillery was also an awe-inspiring
experience.  The Finalists experienced first hand the flavors and natural
ingredients that are basis for the traditional amaro.

“The outcome could not have been written any more poetically.  These five
talented mixologists enjoyed a decadent weekend, and the Averna family
genuinely loved welcoming them into their home and distillery,” said DSWE
founder and CEO Paolo Domeneghetti. “Don Lee’s drink, La Cola Nostra, is a
delicious treat that we are proud to include in our Averna cocktail
repertoire. Our congratulations go out to Don Lee and all of the Averna HAVE
A NEW LOOK competition finalists.”

About Averna

Averna (www.averna.it), Italy’s favorite Amaro and the first licensed spirit
in Sicily, is distilled from an all-natural blend of herbs, dried flowers,
spices and licorice. The recipe for Averna is a closely guarded secret of
Fratelli Averna S.p.A., a fourth-generation family-run company based in
Caltanissetta, Sicily.  Traditionally a soothing after-dinner drink, or
digestivo, known for its distinctively delicious bitter sweet taste profile,
Averna is now being discovered by bartenders and cocktail lovers as a
versatile mixer for a variety of drink recipes.

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