In a warm-up to the Minneapolis Iron Bartender 2016 finals (taking place at the Pourhouse on Sunday, Sept. 4), we asked bartenders from the final 4 teams to compete in a warm-up event on our rooftop. A secret ingredient was provided, and three judges named two cocktails the winners (in a tie).

Dragon fruit has a subtle flavor, and a mushy texture, making it a challenge to highlight in any cocktail.

Hola Arepa

Katy Dimick and Kellen Bongartz of Hola Arepa decided to muddle the fruit and its skin to extract juice and color from it. What resulted was a pink-hued, earthy base for this fruity and tropical cocktail called The Pink Dragon. A Mayan rum-style liqueur called Huana combines with reposado tequila to add a nice depth and complexity to the drink, while yerba mate honey simple syrup and Velvet Falernum provide a sweet element.


Several slices of dragon fruit (with skin attached)
2 oz Don Julio Reposado tequila
¾ oz Huana Guananbana liqueur
½ oz Velvet Falernum
½ oz Earl Giles Honey syrup
¾ oz fresh lemon juice


In a shaker tin, vigorously muddle dragon fruit and skin. Add remaining ingredients, and shake over ice. Double strain (to remove seeds) and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a thin slice of dragon fruit skewered on a rosemary sprig.

Zen Box Izakaya

Mimi Le and Tyler Staples of Zen Box Izakaya also muddled the dragon fruit (without the skin) and combined it with a blend of tequilas — reposado for complexity, and blanco for brightness . A light apertif wine, honey, and grenadine provided balance for this light & refreshing breakfast-style cocktail called How To Tame Your Dragon.


Several slices of dragon fruit
1 ½ Don Julio Anjejo tequila
½ Don Julio Blanco tequila
½ oz Rothman & Winter Apricot liqueur
½ oz Cocchi Americano Rosa
¾ oz fresh lime juice
Earl Giles Honey syrup
¼ oz Earl Giles Grenadine


Muddle several slices of peeled dragon fruit in the bottom of a shaker. Add all ingredients, and shake over ice. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass (to remove seeds); garnish with a thin wheel of dragon fruit and a few drops of Dashfire’s Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters.


The other two competitors in the final showdown will be Hi-Lo Diner and Volstead’s Emporium.

Mike Augustyniak