Archive for the ‘Competitions’ Category

So Tales of the Cocktails 2012 seems to have been the best one yet, according to friends, friends of friends and colleagues that went this year. Which is great if you were there, not as great if you weren’t there. Still, joy was had for everyone, especially for those who were following the events unfold back home in the UK, celebrating the fact that we’ve won more awards in the US than we’ve collected medals at the London Olympics (oh dear).

But most importantly with the liquid side of things, it’s not really about winning or losing, as long as everyone has an awesome time, that knowledge and information is exchanged, with the aim of being able to give the paying customer who goes into a bar for a great drink and an even greater time. Right? Right…

So, here we go with the criteria’s and announcements, with the winners highlighted appropriately.


American Bartender of the Year: From Jerry Thomas onwards, American bartenders have been amongst the most influential on drinks styles and cocktail culture in general. This award seeks to recognize the most influential American bartender today. The winner should be proficient at making all recognized classic drinks and also have created contemporary cocktails that have been copied by his/her peers. Nominees must actively be working behind the bar.

  • Eric Alperin
  • Charles Joly
  • Jeffrey Morganthaler
  • Joaquin Simo

Best American Brand Ambassador: An award which recognizes the importance of personality in the promotion of drinks brands and their creative use of brand communication to engage the trade and their ability to execute compelling education and seminars. This person must be working as an Ambassador full time in the USA. Nominees must NOT be working behind the bar.

  • Erick Castro
  • Elayne Duke
  • Jamie Gordon
  • Jim Ryan

Best American Cocktail Bar: This award recognizes the influence on cocktail trends within the United States and seeks to award the country’s best cocktail bar. Menu, bar teams, atmosphere and cocktail quality are all considered.

  • Anvil Bar & Refuge – Houston, Texas
  • Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
  • Columbia Room – Washington, District of Columbia
  • The Varnish – Los Angeles, California

Best Bar Mentor: Not everybody who is having an impact on the quality of the cocktails we drink are working behind the bar as bartenders. There are many people who are creating fine bar programs, training the next generation of great bartenders, and playing an active role in designing the bars we all love to drink in. This award is to recognise those individuals who, in their professional life, play a crucial role in raising the quality of bars, bartenders, and cocktails without currently working as a bartender. Nominees must NOT be working behind the bar.

  • Bridget Albert
  • Wayne Collins
  • Francesco Lafranconi
  • Steve Olson

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar: Awarded to the bar that consistently delivers top quality cocktails at bars with 100 seats or more. This award celebrates those bars that deliver cocktail culture to the masses efficiently. Cocktails, lists, bartending and service are all considered.

  • Beretta – San Francisco, California
  • Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
  • Eastern Standard – Boston, Massachusetts
  • La Descarga – Los Angeles, California

Best Cocktail Writing: Great journalism is one of the best ways to communicate to the general public the value and significance of great cocktails and related products. This award is for any non-book journalism (Magazine, Newspaper, Website, etc) that promotes bars, bartender, or cocktails in general. Please attach samples below. This award is split into two sub-categories: non-book author and non-book publication. 


  • BarLifeUK
  • Time Out NY


  • Gary Regan
  • Robert Simonson
  • Dave Wondrich
  • Naren Young

Best International Brand Ambassador: An award which recognizes the importance of personality in the promotion of drinks brands and their creative use of brand communication to engage the trade and their ability to execute compelling education and seminars. This person should work in an International capacity or in a country other than the USA. Nominees must NOT be working behind the bar.

  • Jacob Briars
  • Ian Burrell
  • Claire Smith
  • Angus Winchester

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: The best book published in 2011 regarding cocktails, liquor, bars, bar design or bartending in general. New editions of existing works may also be nominated.

  • The American Cocktail by the Editors of Imbibe
  • Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all
  • Gaz Regan’s Annual Manual for Bartenders 2011
  • PDT Cocktail Book

Best New Product: This is awarded to what the judges consider to be the best newcocktail ingredient (spirit, liqueur, syrup or juice) or piece of cocktail equipment (muddler, shaker etc.). To qualify products must have been launched after March 2011 and must be on general retail sale in at least three US states as of March 31, 2012.

  • Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
  • Cognac Pierre Ferrand 1840 Formula
  • Lillet Rose
  • Perlini System

Best Restaurant Bar: This award is for the restaurant bar that is dedicated to creating a great cocktail experience for their dining guests. Considerations will go to the approach they have to aperitif and digestive drinks, how well they work with the kitchen to pair cocktails with food as well as general bartending and mixing excellence.

  • Bar Agricole – San Francisco, California
  • Rivera – Los Angeles, California
  • Saxon + Parole – New York, New York
  • Slanted Door – San Francisco, California

International Bartender of the Year: The absolute best drinks mixer in the world. The winner must have received international recognition of their work with their own recipes crossing borders to appear on cocktail menus in numerous countries. (US citizens are not excluded.)

  • Zdenek Kastanek
  • Alex Kratena
  • Sam Ross
  • Dushan Zaric
World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Only truly world-class bars will be considered for this illustrious title. Some bars attain worldwide recognition and this award recognizes the very best of the best.
  • 69 Colebrooke Row – London, United Kingdom
  • Black Pearl – Melbourne, Australia
  • The Connaught Bar – London, United Kingdom
  • The Varnish – Los Angeles, California

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: The judges seek to reward innovative and thirst inducing cocktail menus. Both the design and content will be considered. Nomination requires inclusion of PDF or JPEG copy of the menu being nominated. Please attach samples below.

  • Black Pearl – Melbourne, Australia
  • Callooh Callay – London, United Kingdom
  • Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
  • Mayahuel – Manhattan, New York

World’s Best Drinks Selection: A venue stocking an outstanding range of spirits and liqueurs. The judges will favour discernment as well as sheer number of bottles stocked.

  • Artesian Bar at The Langham – London, United Kingdom
  • Death & Co. – Manhattan, New York
  • Eau de Vie – Sydney, Australia
  • Salvatore at The Playboy – London, United Kingdom

World’s Best Hotel Bar: The classic ‘American Bar’ played an important role in the history and development of cocktail culture. The judges are looking for hotel bars that uphold this tradition (but are not necessarily old) and offer five-star service and consistently well made drinks.

  • Artesian Bar at The Langham – London, United Kingdom
  • Clive’s Classic Lounge – Victoria, British Columbia
  • Clyde Common – Portland, Oregon
  • The Zetter Townhouse – London, United Kingdom

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
Criteria: Only bars which opened after March 31 ,2011 may be nominated. This award aims to reward new creativity and ideas as well as well executed drinks.

  • Aviary – Chicago, Illinois
  • Candelaria – Paris, France
  • Canon – Seattle, Washington
  • The Zetter Townhouse – London, United Kingdom

An extended congratulations goes to Alex Kratena and the Artesian Bar at The Langham, to Gaz Regan for picking up the Helen Davie Lifetime Achievement award, and to the rest of London that both  represented and won in their respected catgeories. Until next year folks, when I may or may not be there. Cheers!

PDT Cocktail Book: Best Cocktail Book


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After receiving old friend Megs Miller into the bosom of the Edinburgh bartending scene, and the inevitable catch-ups and late night boozing sessions, it turns out that not only is it Halloween here in the UK, there’s less than two hours left of the day until midnight, and the 1st of November, thus rendering a Halloween and a drink-related post almost obsolete. But then again, posting a drink-related post as the seconds creep towards midnight doesn’t make up for the fact that by the time this piece is read, readers will either be hungover (if you’re in Australia), about to go out partying (UK), about to come home from ‘Trick or Treating (kids in the UK – who shouldn’t be reading this), or about to getting ready for a shift at work, if not at work already (UK/US).

Procrastinating and justifying aside, a post and a drink needs to be articulated, and articulated well. With the 2nd annual Chartreuse heat about to go ahead next month, the deadline for drink submissions is less than an hour away.

The inspiration behind the drink lies mainly with the Purgatory, a rye-based drink created in 2008 that uses both Green Chartreuse and Benedictine to smooth out the rye. Whilst being a tiny bit unusual – mainly because no bitters are used – the best thing about this devilish cocktail comes from the fact that the complexity and length is added to the drink  in the form of two French, herbal, monk-related liquors (Gary Regan talks about the drink here).

Purgatory (Adapted from a recipe by Ted Kilgore, Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood, 2008)

  • 50ml Rye whisky
  • 12.5ml Green Chartreuse
  • 12.5ml Benedictine

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir lovingly (or hatefully) with ice, assuring proper dilution(!). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

With this in mind, and basing a drink around the rule of using at least 25ml of Green Chartreuse, a drink was devised that followed suit of the original Purgatory, but with an obvious twist; living in Scotland and being a fan of scotch, a smokey single malt came into play as opposed to rye. Out with the Benedictine and in came Bitter Truthe Elixir, a distant relative of the Italian Amaro, with two drops of Orange Blossom water for some light floral notes. The ingredients were toned down to equal measures, more so to support each other on equal terms as opposed to fight for supremacy based on sheer volume.

The name is taken directly from the film of the same name, with a direct reference of the literal and spiritual journey the monks have made throughout the last nine centuries, a story and history that includes governmental persecution and underestimation, misunderstandings and exile, and distillery destruction and forgery.

And so with that, ladies and gentleman, here we go…

Road to Perdition

  • 30ml Cask-rested Green Charetreuse
  • 30ml Islay Single Malt Scotch
  • 30ml Bitter Truth Elixir
  • 2 drops of Orange Blossom/Flower water

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass in a dark and morose manner. Add ice, stir devilishly and strain the dark, smoked, herbaceous liquid into a chillingly cold glass with one drop of orange water in the base of the glass. Add the second of drop onto the surface of the drink, and torture out the oils of a lemon peel be squeezing and twisting without mercy. Serve to the poor soul in front of you.

NB – Go for Lagavulin or Caol Ila. Something with both smoke and body is important here, mainly to stand up to boldness of the other flavours. And don’t be afraid to stir for a while if you have the right ice; the texture of this drink could be a problem due to under dilution. As for the cask-aged Green Chartreuse, this is the by-product of a project that is looking to reproduce the Purgatory into a single liquid, using casks that have been seasons with Green Chartreuse and Benedictine. More information of this will follow in the coming months…

Tom Hanks having a post-Green Chartreuse night-before breakfast.

Happy Halloween folks.

PS – For other reasons on why I haven’t posted on here in a while, go here and here to read some articles I’ve wrote for old friend (though not just in terms of age – sorry) Shay Leighton.

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The video above is an entry to the Auchentoshan Swtich, a competition in which 20 finalists will go through to London to battle it out for a two-week trip to New York. The prize is not just a holiday though; the lucky winner will spend time working in Apotheke, a New York bar renowned for its foray into molecular mixology and 21st century bartending.

On the other side of the Atlantic, however, one lucky winner from the final in Las Vegas will be heading over to London to work with Tony Coniglario at 69 Colebrooke row. Hence that ‘switch’ thing in the name.

To have a chance of getting to the final, participants must create an Old Fashioned and a lemonade from scratch, and take no longer than eight minutes to complete both. Outside of that, it’s pretty much open to interpretation.

For a slightly unique spin on things I decided to take a little inspiration from New York a la Penicillin-style (courtesy of Sam Ross, Milk & Honey). As for the old-fashioned, I stayed in touch with the concept of the sherry finishes – one of the main selling points behind Auchentoshan Three Wood – by using some limited edition Spanish bitters from Adam Elmegirab, and by creating a sugar syrup with Spanish brandy as a the base.

There are some big names that have already put their hat in the ring, mainly in the form of Alex Kratena from the Artisian Bar at the Langham Hotel, Matthew Dakers from Worship Street Whistling Shop and Zdenek Kastanek of Quo Vadis fame. Good luck to everyone involved, and hopefully see you in the final.

Penicillin Lemonade

  • 100ml Still water
  • 50ml Lemon Juice
  • 20ml Ginger Syrup*
  • Dash of honey

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a highball, and top with soda. Garnish with a lemon spiral and serve.

*Ginger Syrup

  • 50 grams de-skinned ginger
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 ¼ cups of sugar

Add water and ginger to a blendable vessel. Blend, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Strain through a Muslin cloth and bottle.

Lowland Siesta

  • 60ml Auchentoshan Three Wood
  • 12.5ml Spanish brandy syrup**
  • Generous dash of Spanish Bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir – but not for too long – and strain into a chilled glass with a single, large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel and serve.

**Spanish Brandy Syrup

  • 1 cup of good quality Spanish Brandy
  • 1 ¼ cup of sugar

Add all ingredients to a glass and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t heat, don’t put in a pan – just stir.

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Chartreuse is here.

In between brainstorming what I would like to blog about over these next few months, procrastinating what I’ll actually blog about over these next few months, on top of not actually writing or researching anything, a cheeky little Chartreuse competition came about the other week, coupled with an interesting little twist…

Cutting straight to the basics, Chartreuse is a French based liqueur made by a couple of monks in Voiron. The green stuff is 55%, massively herbaceous, natural in colour and has a reputed 130 natural herb and plant flavourings. The other stuff – yellow Chartreuse – is a little lighter and a little sweater at 40%.  As well as the aforementioned, the monks also produce an extra-aged chartreuse – Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé, or V.E.P Chartreuse for short – and a herbal elixir, with the latter being used to soak a sugar cube before ingestion, helping to settle the stomach . Chartreuse has also made several appearances in popular culture – Tom Waits’ song ‘Till The Money Runs Out’ being a personal favourite. As a cocktail ingredient, the green and yellow varieties are popular components in both classic cocktails and more contemporary and modern day libations.

Jamie Mac, one of the bartenders at The Raconteur in Edinburgh’s well-to-do area of Stockbridge, and where the competition was held, presided over the final judgement along with the UK Chartreuse ambassador Matthew Dakers. The main judges, on the other hand, were also those who took part. The competition, which took a conscious nod towards ‘Come Dine With Me’, made sure that all those who competed were also responsible for judging their fellow competitors.

And the result? A respectful and well-executed competition, which gave bartenders an insight into the world of judgment and marking criterias with no petulant or predictable marking efforts that would favour the marker – or his fellow friend or colleague – in the quest for victory

The event threw up some interesting drinks, some of which included Iron Bru syrup, tonic reductions, tequila, homemade falernum and came in the form of blazers, fizzes, flips, and…er… general straight up drinks.

With other heats in Leeds, London and Brighton, Sam Watson from the Bon Vivant and some northern-accented, French-clad dude – who also happened to relatively tattooed – will be representing Edinburgh at the finals in London in February.

Some daft heavily tattooed French dude.

Hors d’oeuvre of the day (Tom Walker, Bramble, Edinburgh)

  • 35ml Green Chartreuse
  • 15ml Islay Scotch
  • 7.5ml Kummel
  • 7.5ml DOM Bénédictine
  • 15ml Lime Juice
  • 10ml Lemon Juice
  • Dash of egg white
  • Dash of tonic water
  • Dash of absinthe

Add all ingredients apart from the tonic water and absinthe to a cocktail shaker and dry shake. Add ice, shake hard and double strain into an absinthe rinsed glass. Top up with tonic water and serve.

Herbacious, smokey, sour, dry, with hints of sweet earth and bitterness. Taking a nod towards the Gin Fizz, and a bigger nod towards the Morning Glory Fizz, both of which fall into that anti-fogmatizer/gloomlifter/hangover cure category, the drink is surprisingly light and refreshing. Saying that, despite wanting to stay away from scotch and gin to create something a little more original, I gave in and added a little of Laphroaig Quarter Cask to give another edge to the drink.

Sam Watson doing his 'thang'

Voila (Sam Watson, Bon Vivant, Edinburgh)

  • 25ml Green Chartreuse
  • 25ml lime
  • 25ml Courvoisier Exclusif
  • 20ml Grand Marnier
  • 12.5 ml Yellow Chartreuse
  • Dash of egg white
  • Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients – apart from the bitters – to a cocktail shaker and dry shake. Add ice, shake vigorously and double strain into a coupette. Garnish with a basil leaf, and spray the outside of the glass with orange bitters. Serve

Complex and long, just like Sam Watson himself. Cognac and Chartreuse glide over the pallet with ease, with orange in the foreground and the lime adding a slightly less acidic mouth feel then first anticipated.

To quote maker Saw Watson, the drink is dedicated to all the French girls he’ll probably never hook up with. Voila.

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After a rather uncomfortable seven-hour journey with a large bag of breakables and expensive glassware, the heavily tattooed bartender returned from London in the most triumphant manner, coming first in the Luxardo Sambuca National Finals and with a small amount of press coverage, and an upcoming article in the Christmas issue if Imbibe magazine*.

The finals, which were held at the King’s Cross Social Club in London, brought winners from each of the 14 regional heats that took place across the UK between July and September. The competition itself went off without a hitch, despite the Liverpool nominee not being able to turn up (OK, make that 13).

The scope of drinks – which ranged from a brewed tea with cappuccino style foam, through to drinks that included cherries, cucumbers, juniper berries and over proof rum, in accordance with the products across the Luxardo sambuca range – showcased both the fun side of bartending and cocktail service, especially in conjunction with the sambuca reputation as a party drink, and the more professional and serious bartenders that were attracted to the challenge of making a drink with such an individual base spirit.

Matteo Luxardo, the current chieftain and part of the sixth generation of Luxardo, was on hand to judge – along with journalists from The London Word and drink magazine Imbibe – and presented the top three with a photography-friendly cheque, Luxardo-branded cocktail shakers and hearty Italian hugs.

The top three drinks are listed below.

Photography by Gemma Mount


Corretto Sulla Roccia (1st Place – Tom Walker, Popolo, Newcastle)

  • 45ml Sambuca Dei Cesari
  • 12.5ml Ristretto
  • 10ml Toussiant
  • 2 dashes of Lemon Bitters
  • 1 barspoon of home made orgeat syrup

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir and strain over a spherical ball of ice in a rocks glass. Serve with a lemon twist and a side of lemon and almond biscotti.

Photography by Gemma Mount


Party at the Zara Boat Fair (2nd Place – Shiv Lal, Fat Cat, Leicester)

  • 25ml Spiced Apple Luxardo
  • 12.5ml Butterscotch Schnapps
  • 10ml Lemon Juice
  • 37.5 ml Apple Puree

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake and strain into hallowed  out toffee apple.

Photography by Gemma Mount


666 (3rd place – Gareth Evans, Brass Monkey, Nottingham)

  • 25ml Luxardo Black
  • 25ml Pineapple Juice
  • 20ml Egg White
  • 15ml Lemon Juice
  • 15ml White Crème de Cacao
  • 10ml Chambord

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake hard and double strain into a coupette.

The drink was inspired by the Corretto, a shot of espresso that is usually topped up with grappa or amaro, although it’s not uncommon for black or white sambuca to be added instead. The term, which is also known as Cafe Corretto, translates as ‘coffee correction’. The main twist on the drink comes in the form of the libation being served over a singular ball of ice in a rocks glass, the spherical ice being made possible after receiving an ice sphere molder given by a Suntory rep earlier this year during a training session in Brisbane. The heavily tattooed bartender realises this is (sort of) cheating and side-stepping the art of Japanese ice carving, and aims to correct this in the new year by buying a Japanese ice pick with his winnings, so he can practise the skill of making beautiful balls of ice.

Overall, there were only a few points between the top three, showing just how well the drinks were executed and how much effort had gone into the research and preparation. Congratulations to both Gareth and Shiv for coming third and second respectively.

*Links and photography will be added soon…

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There’s nothing like a good excuse when it comes to talking (or blogging) about drinks and cocktails, and Halloween is no exception.

For Halloween themed drinks, we bartenders can get pretty creative; dark spirits are always a winner, especially as we head into November, mainly because of the cold winter months that engulf the North of England. Similarly, flavours like orange and cinnamon, for example, are great flavours that work well with most dark spirits, and lend a great colour for those drinks that you want to keep gloomy and creepy looking.

Back to original libations, however, and there are more drinks than you think that fall into the Halloween realm, even if we have to use out imaginations…

Gloom Lifter

  • 60ml Irish whisky
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 20ml sugar syrup (adjust according to taste/sugar-to-water ratio)
  • 10 ml egg white
  • 1 bar spoon of brandy (optional)
  • 1 dash of grenadine (optional)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake hard and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry, and express the oils of an orange peel over the surface of the drink. Discard peel and serve.

Pretty much a whiskey sour served straight up, the drink was part of the never ending quest for a hangover cure – much like the Corpse Reviver mentioned below – before breaking away and becoming a drink of its own accord in 1940s New York.

The brandy and grenadine are listed in numerous recipes for this drink, but I don’t think they are needed, as the drink has a brilliant complexity and balance already.

As for the egg white, I always try to use this drink as a starting point for customers who are pessimistic about egg in their drinks. If anything, it’s the egg white that makes the drink.

Gloom Chaser

  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 20ml Grand Marnier
  • 20ml orange curacao
  • 12.5 ml grenadine syrup

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

This drink, whilst making its debut in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, was first brought to my attention by good friend Rory Lim at the end of last year, when I was banging on about how great the Gloom Lifter was.

The Gloom Chaser, as you would imagine, is a tarter drink then its aforementioned cousin, especially with the orange-dominant flavors. Not a bad summer refresher (or Halloween refresher, for that matter).

As for an original creation, the following drink uses an old style of drink-mixing with a new gin released by the Berry Brothers Company, as well as some new cardamom bitters from Bob’s Bitters based in London.

Corpse Reviver 3.3

  • 45ml Gin No.3
  • 15ml Green Chartreuse
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml Lillet Blanc
  • 10ml egg white
  • 2 drops of Bob’s Cardamom Bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake hard and double strain into a cocktail glass. Express the oils of an orange peel over the surface of a drink, rim the glass, and discard. Drop two drops of cardamom bitters onto the surface of the drink. Serve.

Photography by Dee Chaneva

According to David Wonderich’s Imbibe, the Corpse Reviver first came to fruition in 1862, and was part of the never-ending search for the hung over fraternity that were after a little morning refreshment. William Grimes’ Straigh up or on the Rocks, however, is the book that provides a recipe, a pousse café-style drink that consists of yellow chartreuse, maraschino and creme de Noyaux.

Although the drink leans more towards to sour category, especially with the addition of egg white, the drink falls somewhere between the category of summer and autumn drinks, the latter mainly for it’s warming and herbal properties.

Originally entered in the Gin No.3 & Kings Ginger competition held by Inspirits at the end of September, the drink leads with the herbaceous chartreuse and the spicy botanicals of the gin before the Lillet wades in. A sourness persists throughout, accentuated by the egg white, with bitterness from the Lillet and cardamom bitters. This one is for those who like the taste of booze in their cocktail!

At 46% abv, Gin No.3 packs one hell of a punch in any drink where it’s used as a base spirit. Coupled with Green Chartreuse, which comes in at 55% abv, and it’s safe to say that this drink, like the classic Corpse Reviver No.2, would probably unrevive the corpse after a few too many…

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I received an email from the UK Angostura Brand Ambassador for Angostura Rum and Bitters, Alison Gibb, telling me that I hadn’t won/been chosen for the Angostura Rum and Bitters International Cocktail Competition to be held at Rumfest in October this year. Never mind, I guess. However, congratulations to Martin Siska from The Donovan Bar, Browns Hotel, London, who won with his drinks ‘Two Little Roses’ and ‘Ruminez’.

However, despite not getting anywhere near the competition in London (not without buying a ticket for Rumfest, anyway), I thought I’d share my entries for the competition anyway.

Cocktail de Boissiere (Angostura Bitters-based cocktail)

  • Angostura Orange Bitters
  • Cinnamon Sugar
  • 20ml Angostura 1919
  • 10ml Orange Curacao (Mary Birzzard is a decent make for this)
  • Champagne/Sparkling Wine

Rinse the inside of the champagne flute with Angostura orange bitters. Discard. Fill the champagne flute with cinnamon sugar. Discard, as though to leave frostiness inside the glass. Next, pour in the Angostura 1919 and the orange curacao, and top up with champagne. Give the mixture a very brief stir and serve.

The idea of the cocktail is for the bitters to act as a solid, flavour-enhancing backbone for the other flavours and sensations, instead of being an undertone to the drink. Even though one can taste the delicacies of the champagne, the strength of the rum and the dryness of the orange, the bitters reinforce all of the aforementioned flavours, and remain barely detectable through the different transitions… but detectable nonetheless, and in a way that would suggest that it’s merely more than bitters that help platform the other flavours in terms of coming to the front of the pallet. A dry and slightly bitter orange flavour always persists throughout.

The name ‘de Boissiere’ takes it’s name from the de Boissiere family, of which Eric Williams, the first Prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago in the early 1960s, was a descendent of. The de Boissiere family made their fortune through trading and selling slaves after the official abolition of slavery in the early 1800s. Williams subsequently went on to write a book arguing that the abolition was motivated more for economic manifestations as opposed to the compassionate actions of the government and those involved.

As for the rum cocktail, this is slightly trickier in terms of executing.

Port of Spain cocktail (Angostura Rum-based drink)

  • 60ml Angostura 1919
  • 25ml Tawny Port
  • 15ml Oloroso Sherry
  • 2 Dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters
  • ‘Burnt spray’ of Angostura Bitters

Add Angostura orange bitters and Angostura 1919 to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into cocktail glass. Next, slide the port and the sherry down the side of the glass – make sure that these two ingredients have been added together in a separate, easy-to-use bottle to ease the mixture into the cocktail – and watch as the mixture settles at the bottom of the glass. For a garnish, spray and set alight Angostura bitters onto the surface of the drink. Serve.

The idea of using port and sherry only came to fruition when the only sherry I had at hand, a lovely 30-year-old Oloroso that a friend brought back from Spain several weeks ago, hadn’t been opened. After tasting it, I realised that despite it’s complexity and sweetness, it had a little bit of bitterness, even citric-acid style tartness, and put it down it down mainly to it’s aging as opposed to solely the style of wine it is. Cue the use of Port – which I had to go out and buy – and a slight mix-up in Port’s favour. Boom! The mixture of the two works a treat (in a cocktail at least). A balanced complexity yet strong as sin, a use of two fortified wines to sink to the bottom of the drink to incorporate the name of the drink to it’s ingredients, with a combined age of 40 years. Awesome.

The cocktail takes its name from the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, though with a double-entendre that is with a nod towards Port wine (and the Portuguese ethnicity) and the Spanish-style wine that is sherry (and the Spanish ethnicity). The inspiration behind the drink evolves from the Princeton Cocktail, a drink that first came into print in 1895 in George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drink.

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