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In this Monday, April 28, 2014 photo, bartender Mario Sanchez crafts a margarita cocktail at the bar of El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo)
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He Said: Seventh-annual Devoured bartending competition shook, stirred up competition

In this Monday, April 28, 2014 photo, bartender Mario Sanchez crafts a margarita cocktail at the bar of El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

February 28th marked the seventh-annual bartending competition as part of the Devoured event series.

When you think of Devoured, you normally think of the weekend-long event at the Phoenix Art Museum where locals dine on locally owned restaurants food samples and beverages.

However, the event organizers actually put on multiple events throughout the week and this competition was the start to those events.

Held at Desoto Central Market, it provided attendees with a card to sample not only the nine cocktails that would be crafted for the competition, but also the locally distilled liquor samples that help to make up those cocktails.

Don’t worry — they were small samples, so while the 12 or so samples sounded like a lot, you were given just a taste that was smaller than a shot glass.

(We were voting, after all, for our favorite and you didn’t want everyone to go overboard and not make some sober decisions.)

The winner would be the voter’s choice while the official judging was done with a panel of professionals.

The outside portion of the festival held the samples, while the inside was the main show. Three-by-three, the bartenders came up, demoed the making of their drink, talked about it, and provided full size beverages to the judges.

As the judges did their official judging I was off to cast the ballet for my favorite. I started off strong with a tasting of the 3 Wells distillery and their prickly pear copper.

You could really taste the sweetness of the prickly pear right from the start and it opened my taste buds for the rest of the cocktails coming my way.

Because of the large amount of actual cocktails I decided to stay away from the rest of the straight shots and focus instead on the bartenders cocktails.

They all were completely different was which was refreshing. There was no duplicating on the mixes or ideas which goes to show the phenomenal talent we have here in the valley in the mixologist department.

For me the standouts included; the Windsor Arizona Pimm’s cup, the Henry Painted Mule, the Thirsty Camel Cinnamon Samurai, and lastly the winner in my book, St. Francis 5th Element.

There were multitude of others in the competition but looking back these were the ones I wanted seconds of and interestingly enough, for completely different reasons.

The Arizona Pimm’s Cup was best described as a Sweet Tea, in fact that was exactly the flavor I got upon sampling. It was prefect for the sun drenched day without being over intoxicating.

Moving on to the Painted Mule, the thing that stood out for me was how refreshing it was and dare I say, even hydrating. Of course, being alcohol I’m well aware hydrating it was not, but it did quench my thirst that day with its deconstructed ginger beer and the lavender extracts.

The cinnamon Samurai was a mix between a hot sauce and a cinnamon apple. It has a sprinkling of heat on top of the sweet cinnamon and apple flavors. Combined with a dehydrated piece of apple cinnamon crisp it really had a unique texture and flavor.

The 5th Element, at the end of the day, was exactly what I wanted and needed. It is made with pineapple and orange juice with some turmeric, a dash of Worchester, and Blanco tequila.

It was a drink you could feel good about with its anti-inflammatory qualities but also loosen up and have a good time; as the tequila while almost impossible to taste, packed a punch.

I may have had my favorite but the judges had their own opinion and they felt that the Thirsty Camel – Cinnamon Samurai was the top winner!

The attendee voters had a different opinion though, and chose the Windsor — Arizona Pimm’s Cup.