From crisp, subtle, and floral, to complex, aggressive, and aromatic, fresh herbs can excite and amplify your favorite cocktail. How best to use those botanicals is another matter. Before grabbing shears and muddling a garden into a shaker, allow Michael Gray, account manager of an RNDC beverage distributor and former GM of Plat 99 at The Alexander hotel, to be your spirit guide. Understanding source materials for your base alcohol—sugar cane for rum or cereal grain for whiskey—is the starting point for crafting a cocktail. Once the base is established, at-home bartenders can begin experimenting with flavor combinations and extracting aromas. The key is finding balance.
Some of the city’s best ’tenders—including Libertine’s Neal Brown and Plat 99’s Michael Gray—gathered for a mixology competition at the Indiana Convention Center on Thursday. Here, some of the highlights, in photos.