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Finlandia Vodka Cup 2012 U.S. Finalists

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The Finlandia Vodka Cup is one of the cocktail competitions that many bartenders worldwide look forward to each year. The challenge is to create a unique cocktail recipe using one of Finlandia's vodkas that will win over judges at the regional then international level.

The 14th round of the competition began late in 2011 and will end up with finalists traveling to Finland to compete in the international competition in February 2012. Below are the finalists for the United States and there are some very fun, very creative drinks included in the list. They range from the fruity to the savory, and the simple to the very complex. Check out this amazing compilation of drinks from some very creative bartenders.

Visit Finlandia's website to learn more about the Vodka Cup...

Beet Down #2 - Mike Henderson

Beet Down #2 Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

A variety of fruits with the snap of ginger and mint make up this cocktail, though the most interesting aspect has to be the beets. If you have not tried a beet cocktail and are dying to see what it's like, this is one of the best options I've found to date.

From Mike Henderson of Denver, Colorado

  • 1 1/2 oz Finlandia Tangerine Vodka
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 3/4 oz Yuzu Juice
  • 1/2 oz Ginger Syrup*
  • 1/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 oz Marinated Beet Cubes
  • 1 other Large Sprig of Mint

In a mixing glass or tin combine and muddle beet cubes, yuzu juice, grapefruit juice, and ginger syrup. Add Finlandia Tangerine, Aperol, and mint. Add ice and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Double fine strain into a Collins Glass filled with 3 cubes of Kold Draft or Block ice. Garnish with a large sprig of mint and 3 beet cubes skewered on a cocktail pick. Finish with a stainless steel spoon straw.

*For Ginger Syrup combine 2 cups coarsely chopped ginger, 2 cups sugar, and 1.5 cups water. Simmer over heat for 1 hour, bottle, and let cool.

Col. Pepper's Lonely Mango - Jay Hudson

Col. Pepper's Lonely Mango Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

Mango and spicy peppers are a natural fit because the mango tames the heat and I've found it to be one of the best tropical fruits for doing so. In this drink there are two mango elements and two spicy elements and they balance each other out rather well.

From Jay Hudson of Denver, Colorado

  • 1 1/2 oz Finlandia Mango Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper
  • 3 dash Tabasco Sauce
  • 2 oz Mango Puree
  • 2 oz Club Soda

Pour 1 1/4 oz of Finlandia Mango, 3/4 oz of Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper into a mixing glass with ice. Add 3 dashes of Tabasco Sauce, and 2 oz of Mango Puree. Shake to mix. Strain into glass over ice. Garnish with a jalapeno.

Elderflower Creamsicle - Bridget Cheslock

Elderflower Creamsicle - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

Clementines make a rare appearance in cocktails, though I think these citrus should be used more often as they're delectably sweet. They are also rather versatile when combining with other flavors, here clementines are paired with elderflower, tangerine, and vanilla for a delightful sparkler.

From Bridget Cheslock of San Diego, California

Add ice to a shaker. Pour Finlandia Vodka, St. Germain and Clemetine Juice into the shaker and shake for 8 seconds. Pour shaker ingredients into a highball glass with ice. Pour Polar Vanilla Sparkling Water into highball glass. Add a dash of Angostura Bitters. Finish with a garnish of a Clementine twist.

Fins of Faith - Ken Kodys

Fins of Faith Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

I would wager that if you tried to guess how this cocktail will taste, you would be wrong. It is such a mash of odd ingredients - from coconut and Chartreuse to peppers and arugula - that it is truly a drink that has to be tasted in order to enjoy its incomparable flavor. However, don't let its unorthodox construction throw you off, it's certainly worth trying.

From Ken Kodys of Denver, Colorado

Muddle 4 Baby Arugula Leaves and 3 Peppadew at the bottom of a mixing glass. Add Demerara, Finlandia, Chartreuse, Lime, Coconut water and Peychauds bitters. Add 3 cubes block ice and shake for 10 seconds Fill Finlandia highball with block ice and double fine strain contents to remove all solids. Garnish with Baby Arugula and Pickled Peppadew.

Flor de Jamaica Cup - Gary Gruber

Flor de Jamaica Cup Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup

Delightful. This is the only word I can use to describe this drink. It is floral and fruity, straight out of the garden and a easy, fun drink to mix up anytime.

From Gary Gruber of Prospect, Kentucky

Build in shaker - Muddle a slice of ruby red grapefruit with (5) Basil leaves. Add Ice and remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain over glass filled with ice. Garnish with a freshly smacked basil leaf and red grapefruit zest.

Harvest Moon - Jake Bliven

Harvest Moon - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

This intriguing drink has autumn written all over it. The mead-based syrup is spiced up wonderfully and that mixes well with the apple flavorings, fig and pecans. The vodka and vermouth is a simple base for what deceptively seems like a complex cocktail.

From Jake Bliven of Eugene, Oregon

  • 1 1/2 oz Finlandia Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Spiced mead reduction (2:1 mead/ sugar simmered with 2 cloves, pinch of fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, 2 allspice berries and a star anise)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Bar Code Baked Apple Bitters
  • 1 1/2 oz dry Granny Smith fermented apple cider (I used Woodchuck cider from Vermont)
  • 3 figs baked on a low setting with crushed pecans

Prepare figs and allow them to cool. Once cool, muddle three baked figs with Finlandia vodka. Add dry vermouth, lemon juice, spiced mead reduction, and bitters. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with Fermented apple cider, stir to mix in and garnish with a half sliced fig, lemon slice, "fanned" granny smith apple slice.

Look Better Naked - Scott Fitzgerald

Look Better Naked Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

There are two things that I like about this simple drink. One, it is a nice idea for those who are watching their calories because it shows how the use of a low calorie sweetener and a flavored vodka can make a drink that is far from boring. Two, the way it is constructed with layers of ice and lemon wheels is fun and makes the highball a little more interesting.

From Scott Fitzgerald of Odenton, Maryland

  • 1 1/2 oz Finlandia Cranberry Vodka
  • 1 Packet of Low Cal Sweetener
  • 1/2 Squeeze Fresh Lemon
  • Soda Water

Fill Glass 1/3 with ice, top with lemon wheel. Repeat 2 more times for "layered" look. In a separate glass, combine Finlandia, sweetener, and fresh lemon juice. Gently shake. Put straw through the center of the lemon wheels to hold them in place, Pour ingredients over ice and lemon wheels. Top off with Soda Water.

Mixed Berry Fizz - Christine Misiura

Mixed Berry Fizz Cocktail - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

Who doesn't love a berry medley? They are some of my favorite cocktails when fresh berries are in season and this fizz is a nice use of the tiny fruits.

Christine Misiura of Orlando, Florida

  • 1 oz Finlandia Raspberry Vodka
  • 1 oz Finlandia Black Currant Vodka
  • 1 oz Creme de Mure (blackberry liqueur)
  • 4 other fresh blackberries
  • 3 other fresh raspberries
  • 4 other lemon wedges
  • 3/4 oz Monin Pure Cane Syrup
  • 5 oz Sprite

Muddle blackberries, raspberries and lemon wedges. Add ice to mixing glass. Add Finlandia Vodkas, simple syrup and creme de mure. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice into glass (20 oz highball). Top with Sprite and lightly stir. Garnish with lemon/berry pinwheel.

Nothing Left to Lose - Todd Thrasher

Nothing Left to Lose - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

The one ingredient of this very impressive cocktail that may have you baffled is the soda. Though the recipe does not give a specific recommendation for 'bay leaf soda with roasted lemon,' I have used this recipe found in the Washington Post and the results were phenomenal. Just another excuse to use the old fashioned soda siphon!

From Todd Thrasher of Alexandria, Virginia

Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add Vodka and Chartreuse. Add Bitters and Soda. Stir gently.

Peach Treaty - Jason Beatty

Peach Treaty - Finlandia Vodka Cup
Photo Courtesy: © Finlandia Vodka Cup

I enjoy the subtle flair of this drink, it truly is the treat that the name implies. It has a delightful peach and tea combination accented with an orange blossom honey syrup and, the not-to-miss kicker, violet blooms in ice. A springtime delight? I think so.

From Jason Beatty of Indianapolis, Indiana

  • 4 1/2 cl Finlandia Classic Vodka [about 1 1/3 oz]
  • 9 cl Rooibos Tea with Berries [about 3 oz]
  • 9 cl Peach Juice [about 3 oz]
  • 2 cl Orange Blossom Honey with Water [about 3/4 oz]
  • 1 1/2 cl Lemon Juice [about 1/2 oz]
  • 3 Ice Spheres with Violets Frozen Within

Add ice spheres into glass. Add ingredients into mixing glass with separate ice and shake vigorously. Strain ingredients over ice spheres into glass. Garnish with lemon wheel.

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