What is it?

"The Swan Song" is the official Festival Signature Cocktail, selected from a juried competition, will be served at the Opening Night Party.

What's the story?

The BB&T Charleston Food + Wine Festival hosts an annual Mixologist Competition to determine its signature beverage. Twenty entries were submitted to a panel of industry judges which selected five finalists. The competitors included Hallie Arnold of The Grocery, Megan Deschaine of Tristan, Gerry Kieran of Seanachai, Chris Laine of IceBox and Sarah Martin of Bay Street Biergarten.

What was the challenge?

Arnold's "The Swan Song" is a Reyka Vodka cocktail with guava juice, apple ginger shrub, fennel juice and a caraway Szechuan tincture.

This year the competitors had to craft their cock- tail to be paired with Hank's Seafood chef Frank McMahon's dish of seared scallop with kohlrabi slaw, speck, caraway mustard gastrique and pumpernickel croutons. Determining complementary flavor notes to such a complex dish challenged their creativity. Arnold focused on the "crisp and bright flavors of the kohlrabi."

Who's selling it?

The Grocery at 4 Cannon St. The cocktail will launch Festival Week for $10.

Quotable

"Hallie's cocktail 'The Swan Song' was very carefully thought out, well balanced, creative and ultimately paired excellently with the dish, which was the whole point of this cocktail competition. In my opinion, 'The Swan Song' and Hallie's style fuel Charleston Wine & Food Festival's excitement for recognizing the great bartenders of this city who take a culinary approach to mixology with delicious results. Working with vodka can be a challenge to bartenders as the onus is all on them to create the flavors." - Charlotte Voisey, contest judge and Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons

How to drink it

This cocktail is shaken, strained and served up with a fennel frond garnish. Inspiration for the name came from the Icelandic singer Bjork and her iconic swan dress at the 2001 Oscars.

Deidre Schipani