A big trend in cocktail contests is to do them Iron Chef-style: revealing a mystery ingredient and asking bartenders to create a cocktail with it on the spot.
I was judging one such competition at a convention in Orlando that involved three rounds of mystery ingredients with three different drink formats (aperitif, long drink, dessert drink). The bartenders from around the country came up with some amazing creations, but the winning dessert drink created by Caterina Miltenberger was the most memorable to me. Miltenberger was the mixologist representing her employer, Glazer's wine and spirits wholesalers.
The mystery ingredient was mango, and Miltenberger used it in the form of mango nectar. She told me that a swirl of dessert ideas came to mind and eventually melded into one drink: Mango Sticky Rice (mango and coconut), the Batida (an alcoholic Brazilian milkshake of sorts that often contains coconut and/or fresh fruit), Crème Brûlée (imitated with Maker's Mark bourbon and vanilla in a syrup), and flan (caramel vodka).
Her drink is below. It is sweet and creamy, but not too thick and made refreshing from the mango: not too bad for a cocktail invented in just a few minutes.
São Paulo Batida
By Caterina Miltenberger
1 fl. oz. Sobieski Karamel Vodka
0.25 fl. oz. Don Q Coconut Rum
1 fl. oz. Finest Call brand Coco Real Cream (a version of cream of coconut)
1 fl. oz. Cream (half & half)
1.5 fl. oz Mango Nectar
2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
5 drops Makers Mark 46 Syrup* in the bottom of the glass
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a large/deep cocktail glass over new ice.
Garnish: Skewer a slice of fresh mango, roll it in caramel sauce, and cover in coconut flakes. Set this on the rim of the glass.
*Makers Mark 46 Syrup
1 fl. oz Markers Mark 46 Bourbon
½ inch vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 fl. oz. simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a small container and shake to create a quick infusion.