Bénédictine Liqueur has crowned Tom Higham and Amir Javaid as joint winners of the Northern heat of its 2013 Cocktail Challenge in the closest heat of the competition so far.
Tom, from The Liquorists, and Amir, from Room Manchester, both fought off stiff competition from the other skilled entrants in the third heat of the challenge at Epernay Bar in Manchester and took part in a dramatic final shake off as they were awarded joint highest scores by the judges (including my good self).
With the shake off still not able to separate the two contestants, it was decided that both Tom and Amir were equally deserved winners of the once in a lifetime paid trip to France in October, which includes a visit to the liqueur’s birthplace in Fécamp, Normandy and a Cocktail Safari in Paris, all courtesy of Bénédictine.
All the aspiring mixologists were required to create a new cocktail containing a minimum of 35ml Bénédictine, which was then marked on taste, aroma and presentation. The entrants themselves were also judged on their knowledge of the Bénédictine brand, plus the creativity and presentation of their cocktail.
Amir impressed the judges with his chocolate-inspired “The Grand Belle Epoc”, which was created using a mix of Bénédictine, Dark Chocolate Tea, Kings Ginger, Peychaud Bitters, topped with a lemon and mint garnish, and presented with stem ginger coated in dark chocolate accompaniments.
Speaking about the competition, Amir said, “I love using Bénédictine in my cocktails and was interested to see how others use it as an ingredient too. I wanted to be as creative as possible and really challenged myself, so to be named the joint-winner is a great achievement.”
Tom took a different, but equally delicious, steer on his drink of choice, “Eternian Flip”, which was also a big hit with the judging panel. Made using a most enjoyable mix of Bénédictine, Angostura Bitters, Guinness, Coca Lopez and egg yolk, he presented his drink with a Pain du Chocolat, which complemented the sweet flavour of the drink perfectly.
Joint-winner Tom said: “I always enjoy experimenting with new flavours and I had great fun coming up with my drink for today so to win the competition is amazing! The trip in October sounds incredible and I can’t wait to learn more about Bénédictine, by visiting its hometown of Fécamp.”
Paul Curry, brand manager at Bénédictine Liqueur, said: “Once again, the competition has been fantastic, and the quality of both bartenders and cocktails has been excellent. The Northern heat is always a strong competition, but this year was exceptional and we simply couldn’t choose between Amir & Tom’s creations!
“We loved both of the winning cocktails, which made it incredibly difficult for us to choose a winner. Tom and Amir both came up with really imaginative recipes that demonstrate just how versatile Bénédictine can be as a cocktail ingredient.”
Amir and Tom will also be joined on the trip to France by three other regional contestants, from the London, Birmingham and Glasgow heats, which have been taking place throughout September.