As part of a European-wide initiative, super-premium brand, Beluga Vodka, is proud to announce the launch of Beluga Signature; an on-trade educational brand programme encompassing a roadshow and cocktail competition in nine major cities across the UK, France and Germany. Commencing in June, it is hoped that the multiple stage programme will build and strengthen the understanding of the Beluga Brand with the European bartender community, while pushing the boundaries of high-end mixology.
Open only to those that work in Beluga-stocked bars, the “Creative Competition Stage” launching in July will invite bartenders throughout the UK to create a 1920s-1930s Great Gatsby style Art Deco-inspired cocktail with a modern Beluga twist, suitable for high gastronomic black tie occasions. Entrants will then have 15 minutes to present their creations in front of a panel of judges at the Creative Stage Events in London (26th July), Manchester (2nd August) and Birmingham (3rd August).
In total, five entries will then be shortlisted and put through to the “Promotional Stage”, where participants will be required to promote their own creations in their bars from the 8th August – 8th October. The final winning cocktail will be judged on sales, creativity and visibility of the drink.
Following the Promotional Stage the panel of judges, will announce 1st, 2nd and 3rd places from each UK city in October. The 1st place winners will be announced in October and will be invited on an ‘all-expenses paid’ trip to Moscow in November. This will encompass an incredible Russian experience, visiting key Moscow attractions and prestige trade accounts, as well as taking part in the “Beluga Signature Grand Final” competition alongside the six other 1st place winners from the competitions running in parallel in France and Germany. The overall Beluga Signature winner will receive a monetary reward and an exclusive Beluga trophy.
UK Group Marketing Manager, Katie Warren, says: “The launch of the Beluga Signature programme is an incredibly exciting time for the brand in the UK. Not only will bartenders be able to show off their mixology skills, they will also be receiving excellent one-on-one training from a variety of our experts, including our brand ambassador team. We are really looking forward to the UK cocktail entries, and to see how they compare to those from our French and German entrants.”
For full assessment criteria, entry requirements and terms and conditions, please email UK brand ambassador, Zoran Peric (Zoran@realmix.co.uk).
The winner for Northern Restaurant & Bar’s annual cocktail competition, sponsored by Tequila Casco Viejo, has been announced and wins a once in a lifetime VIP visit to Arandas in Mexico.
Competitors had been asked to submit one unique drink, containing a minimum of 35 ml of either Tequila Casco Viejo Blanco or Reposado, and adding influence of the famous Camarena Brothers, the producers of the brand, as well as the history and heritage of Mexico itself.
The four finalists of Tim Ward of Alvino’s in Newcastle, Alexander Taylor of 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff, Steve Lawson of MASH Steak in London and Ciaran Russell of The Tippling House, Aberdeen were invited to the final of the competition at Northern Restaurant & Bar in Manchester where each competitor was asked to re-create their drink to the waiting judges, including Chris Grimes of Bitten Magazine, Paul Murphy of The Whisky Business in Liverpool and Jack Rackham, Commercial Director of Emporia Brands, the tequila brands UK Distributor.
After impressing the judges and crowd with ‘Don Agustin’s Daisy’, Alexander Taylor of 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff just edged the incredibly close final by paying tribute to the late Don Augustin and Mexico’s traditional use of Marigold flowers, which are both floral and earthy, to grieve the passing of loved ones. Combining Casco Viejo Reposado, Suze Saveur D’Autrefois, Luxardo Amaretto, yellow pepper and lime with a garnish of flamed orange zest and scattered marigold petals, Alex has won himself a visit to Arandas, Mexico as the guest of Tequila Casco Viejo, which has previously beaten off the challenge from the World’s finest tequila brands by winning gold and being rated ‘outstanding’ by the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
Jack Rackham has said “the standard of the presentations and the quality of the drinks was absolutely first class. Separating the finalists was an incredibly tough job but in the end we unanimously agreed that Alex was the deserved winner and I look forward to welcoming him to Casa Camerena distillery”.
Northern Restaurant & Bar is the biggest hospitality show in the North. The show’s Spirit Room is the largest curated selection of spirit brands on show outside London. As well as the Casco Viejo cocktail competition, the Drinks Live theatre featured a line-up of tutored tastings and masterclasses from some of the best names in the business.
One of the world’s best known bourbon brands, Buffalo Trace, came to Manchester this past week to secure a northern bartender a trip of a lifetime to America, courtesy of creating a unique British twist on an American classic cocktail. Hosted by Ross Thompson of UK distributor Hi-Spirits, and judged by the Buffalo palates of UK Brand Ambassador Tim Giles, Liverpool’s own Jim Brailsford and last years winner Amir Javaid, currently head honcho at Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar in Manchester, 11 competitors from across Chester, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool converged at Gorilla to impress.
First to step up to the challenge was to be Mike Holmes of Bourbon and Black in West Didsbury. Using the classic Mint Julep as his inspiration, his creation of BBLT (or bourbon, bacon, leaves and tomato) saw him combine mint, Buffalo Trace and poppy shrub syrup within a mixing glass and stirred over smoked ice. After straining into a bean can, a sprig of mint, a vine of tomatoes and candied bacon adorned the crushed ice top.
Rebecca of The Wash House in Manchester showed her idea on a dessert based cocktail named the Aristocity Flip. Using Buffalo Trace, a spoon of Dewars marmalade, King’s Ginger liqueur, Earl Grey syrup, a pinch of cinnamon, fresh lemon and apple juice, Becca shook the ingredients over ice and strained into a coupette. Offering a garnish of apple crisps with buttered Buffalo Trace to dip, a small cone of ice cream (Cheshire Farm and Buffalo Trace syrup) attached to the glass and a cinnamon dusting over the cocktail itself, she offered the judges an idea that could entice women to enjoy whiskey cocktails!
Lewis Cooke of Epernay, Manchester was up third, twisting a Boilermaker and Bourbon Sling by using Buffalo Trace, Antica Formula, a lemon and oat shrub plus a couple of dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters. Shaken over ice and strained into a crystal cut highball glass, he topped the recipe up with BrewDog’s Dead Pony Club expression and placed a dehydrated lemon wheel and a sprinkling of citrus hops on top. Alongside came an offering to the judges of salted caramel and pecan ice cream, complete with Buffalo Trace salted caramel sauce. Say hello to the Stirling Shandy!
Almost Famous of Manchester stepped up after Lewis in the form of Jonathan Leathley, seeing his twist on a Root Beer float that he called the Brown Buffalo. Showing a de-constructed recipe of Mr Fitzpatrick’s Sarsaparilla cordial, Sacred spiced English vermouth, lime juice, Eager apple juice, homemade vanilla syrup, Fentimans Curiosity Cola and Buffalo Trace, shaken over ice and strained into a glass tankard over ice, he floated on top salted caramel and maraschino cherry ice cream.
The first Leeds representative in Tom Finnon of The Hedonist Project joined the competition, creating his Buffalo8.
Using inspiration from the brands heritage, he came up with using a homemade vermouth that had beetroot as a dominant flavour, chargrilled pineapple syrup, Owney’s NYC rum, a couple of dashes of bitters and of course Buffalo Trace. Shaking over ice and served over a large cube of ice within a goblet, this twist on the Manhattan saw Tom garnish with dry ice and a model of the HMS Mayflower.
Jon Lee of Jake’s Bar and Still in Leeds was to be next to impress, bringing to the bar a twist on the flip named A Breakfast Flip For A King. This saw Buffalo Trace, egg, Kent English porter, golden syrup, Angostura Bitter and King’s Ginger liqueur combined, shaken and strained into a tea cup, complete with a crème brûlée sugar dusting and a stag biscuit to accompany.
Niall McGloin, also of Leeds but this time representing Smokestack, showed his Julep Twist by bringing together a rock candy syrup that had been marinated within rhubarb, homemade custard bitters, fresh rhubarb and Buffalo Trace. Using the aged-old method of crushing ice that he called the ‘wack-a-mole’ way (beating a wrap of ice with a mallet), he filled a sweet tin with the ice and swizzled the ingredients within. His recipe, named Buffalo Rock, came adorned with rock candy and dehydrated rhubarb for a garnish.
Ben Halpin of Blind Tiger became the first to enter the stage from Liverpool, with his recipe named Buffalo From Across The Pond. A twist on a Sazerac, he used his grandmothers own marmalade, Buffalo Trace, lemon juice, almond milk, homemade sarsaparilla bitters that were infused with Buffalo Trace and fresh anise. Mixing the ingredients within a mixing glass over ice, he served his drink on a piece of turf, alleged to have been dug from the Kentucky plains themselves, via a leather drinking pouch.
Calum Adams of Bar Lounge in Chester offered the judges an inspired recipe by Mark Twain (the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) that saw his twist on the classic Whiskey Sour named Quite Frankly Dear, I Don’t Give A Dram!. Using a Bergamot and Assan tea reduction, a handful of cascade and nelson hops, Taylor’s port, fresh pink grapefruit juice, egg and Buffalo Trace, he shook the ingredients over ice and strained into an ice filled wine glass.
Joe Ballinger of Berry and Rye in Liverpool was to be the tenth to show off, with his version of the Mint Julep that he called Old Fire On The Meadow. This saw mint leaves, Peychaud’s Bitters, oaked smoked nettle infused cider syrup, homemade redcurrant wine and Buffalo Trace come together within a crushed ice filled copper tin. An extravagant garnish of wild flowers for the vessel to be served upon and red currants adoring the drink itself, a lid was put over whilst Joe added oak wood chipped smoke into the chamber.
Mani Dosanjh of Tariff and Dale in Manchester was the last to be up, with his Afternoon Tea With The Buffalo’s seeing Buffalo Trace combined with Earl Grey infused neutral spirit, Earl Grey syrup, rose liqueur Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas bitters, all shaken over ice. This twist on the Whiskey Sour came served within a tea pot and ladened with fresh homemade corn bread and a lemon zest sprinkle.
11 fantastic recipes, but who came out on top? Third place saw Rebecca of The Wash House in Manchester and her Aristocity Flip, whilst Tom Finnon of The Hedonist Project in Leeds came second with his creation Buffalo8. But it was to be Joe Ballinger of Berry and Rye in Liverpool who would impress the judges with his Old Fire On The Meadow, a twist on the classic Mint Julep.
Joe won himself a trip to Kentucky and the chance to represent the northern bartenders of the UK alongside the rest of the Buffalo Trace competition winners, including London and Scotland.
If you fancy trying the winning recipe for yourself, head down to Berry and Rye in Liverpool and seek out Joe, I’ll see you at the bar!
Tequila & Mezcal Fest is the UK’s first ever and only festival dedicated exclusively to showcasing the very best bits of Mexico in the greatest ever agave extravaganza. Returning for it’s second year, in London, on the 19th and 20th September, at Old Spitalfields Market and rolling out for the first time in the North West at Liverpool’s Maritime Museum, on the 8th and 9th August, this year is set to be double the fun.
Tequila Fest will hold it’s first ever cocktail competition, taking place in Liverpool and supported by Casco Viejo Tequila. Three teams from, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds will be chosen to battle it out for the title of the North West’s campeon of tequila cocktail making.
The teams will be made up of five bartenders, each with a designated team captain, who will have 15 minutes to impress the judges as they create, prepare and serve two drinks that reflect the family heritage of the Camarena Brothers and encapsulate Mexican culture. The first unique serve must be created by the team captain, using either Casco Viejo Blanco or Reposado (minimum 25ml) and the second, a unique party punch using at least 500ml of either Casco Viejo Blanco or Reposado, to be created by the rest of the team.
Dave Marsland of Emporia Brands and writer for Drink Enthusiast will host the competition in which one of the teams will win a hamper of Casco Viejo Tequila and other Mexican goodie.
Eduardo Gomez, Founder & Director of Tequila Fest comments, “This year is a special year for Tequila & Mezcal Fest as it’s the year of Mexico in the UK and the UK in Mexico, and to celebrate we’re looking for two unique serves that really capture the spirit of Mexico right here in the North West”.
Disaronno has announced its finalists for the 2015 Mixing Star competition. This year’s top ten line up of bartenders have created some exceptionally impressive recipes which will be served up at the London final at Nightjar on 1st June. The finalists are confirmed as:
Simone Rossi – Aqua (London)
Giacomo Di Matteo – The Groucho Club (London)
Federico Pavan – Salvatore at Playboy (London)
Federico Gisbert Johnson – Hawksmoor Guildhall (London)
James Bowker – The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel and Cocktail Lounge (Birmingham)
William Wilson – Palm Sugar Lounge (Leeds)
Joe Macbeth – Rub Smokehouse & Bar (Nottingham)
Joe Nelson – Amicus Apple (Aberdeen)
Stephen Rutherford – Orchid (Aberdeen)
Ehren Khoo-Steel – The Blind Pig (Jersey)
The 10 finalists will battle it out for the Mixing Star title and the top prize – an all-expenses paid trip to the world’s premier drinks festival, Tales of the Cocktail. The competition will be a two-part process, involving peer judging as well as bartenders taking the stage one-by-one to showcase their serve.
The 2015 finalists were selected by Disaronno Mixing Star judging panel; UK brand ambassador Rod Eslamieh, The Artesian’s Simone Caporale, Gary Sharpen of The Cocktail Lovers and 2014 Mixing Star finalist, Adrian Gomes.
Chivas Regal, the world’s first luxury whisky, is once again selecting the world’s top bartenders to take part in this year’s Chivas Masters competition. Developed to celebrate innovation, camaraderie and the craftsmanship at the heart of mixology the competition will see global finalists compete to become the 2015 Chivas Master.
Following the success of the inaugural competition in 2014, Hong Kong will be the first of 12 countries to hold national finals, before the competition culminates in a two-day grand final in New York City in July which will be judged by a distinguished panel of leading bartenders and industry experts. To become the Chivas Master, competitors will need to demonstrate their knowledge of cocktail heritage, mastery of the art of presenting and making great drinks to produce their own classic serve.
As well as putting the industry’s best bartenders onto the world stage, the competition enables competitors to explore cocktail history through Chivas Regal’s rich heritage. Finalists will be challenged to create classic drinks from four of the great cocktail eras – the Classic Age (1880-1920) in which Chivas Regal was created; the Post War Boom (1945-1965) during which time Chivas 12 was introduced; the Disco Years (1975-1990) when Scotch whisky became a truly global brand, and the present modern Age of Revivalism, as Chivas continues to build its reputation as an icon of timeless luxury and exceptional quality.
A unique prize waits for the global 2015 Chivas Master, as they will have the opportunity to work in three iconic bars, in three iconic cities to create three iconic signature drinks. The Chivas Master will be taken on an extraordinary experience where they will work alongside some of the most influential bartenders around the world to collaborate on the creation of a series of signature drinks.
Max Warner, International Brand Ambassador for Chivas Regal comments, “Last year’s Chivas Masters surpassed all expectations, and we were thrilled to see what was achieved by finalists when placed under competition pressure. We are very excited to again to be engaging with the top bartenders in the world and celebrating this amazing industry we are all a part of.”
Over the next few months, national heats will play out around the world as bartenders compete in countries such as China, France, Russia and the United States. Only one competitor from each market will be selected to travel to New York to take part in the grand final in July.
Italian liqueur, Disaronno has launched the search for the UK’s next Mixing Star and introduced an exciting new prize to attract more bartenders than ever to the UK leg of its global cocktail competition.
Talented bartenders who create inspired recipes using Disaronno will compete to win an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans for the world’s premier cocktail festival and legendary industry event, Tales of the Cocktail. The runner up will win a night at The Langham hotel, London, including dinner and cocktails for two at ‘The World’s Best Bar’, the Artesian.
To enter, bartenders will need to submit an original Disaronno cocktail recipe via The Mixing Star website. An esteemed panel of judges, including Gary Sharpen of The Cocktail Lovers magazine and Disaronno’s UK brand ambassador, Rod Eslamieh will then select the best recipes and the successful contestants will compete at the live challenges in Manchester and London this June.
The bartender who receives the highest score from both the judging panel and the guests who attend the live challenges will win the coveted prize and fly to the USA to join the Mixing Star winners from across the globe.
Disaronno’s Mixing Star will be supported via the new website, a digital media campaign, PR and targeted advertising. The competition is open now and bartenders can enter here – http://www.themixingstar.com
A VIP visit to Dijon, France is the prize for the winner of the Gabriel Boudier Cocktail Competition, to be staged at The Northern Restaurant and Bar Show in Manchester on Wednesday 18th March at 3:15pm.
Hosted once again by Dave Marsland aka Drinks Enthusiast, who is working alongside Emporia Brands, the distributors for the French based liqueurs here in the UK.
Competitors will be asked to submit two drinks. The first recipe must be a signature serve containing at least 10 ml of any expression from the Gabriel Boudier Iconic range, whilst the second recipe must be a signature serve containing at least 15 ml of any expression from the Gabriel Boudier Bartender range. The two recipes are a free-reign to create two unique cocktails worthy of the grand prize. A maximum time limit of 10 minutes on the main stage will be given in which both cocktails will be re-created for the judging panel.
The winner will visit Dijon as the guest of Gabriel Boudier, who beat off the challenge from the world’s finest liqueur distilleries to take the trophy for Supreme Champion two years running. The visit will include liqueur training in Dijon and the chance to share expertise with the Battault family, creators of the range, as well as plenty of opportunity to find out why Dijon, the gateway to Burgundy, is seen as one of the most beautiful cities in France.
Scotland based entrants should submit interest to Ed Baird (firstname.lastname@example.org), whilst London based entrants should submit interest to Gavin McGowan-Madoo (email@example.com). The deadline for both is Monday 23rd February. An entry form will be sent to all interested bartenders in view of competing in the respective regional heat.
For the rest of the UK, entrants should direct themselves to the entry form found on the Northern Bar and Restaurant website (http://www.northernrestaurantandbar.co.uk/content/Cocktail-Competition-with-Gabriel-Boudier) with their recipes by midnight on Friday 27th February. 2 finalists will be notified on Monday 2nd March and invited to demonstrate their recipes on the Drinks Live stage at the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show, alongside the winners from the London and Scotland heats.
Gabriel Boudier expressions and basic bar equipment will be supplied at the final, with all other ingredients, garnishes and glassware to be provided by the competitor. No electrical equipment can be used on stage.
Judges, including respected industry figure Simon Difford, will be scoring for knowledge on the Gabriel Boudier brand, the appearance and presentation of the drinks, the aromas of the cocktails and finally how it tastes.
For the full list of Gabriel Boudier expressions, please see www.emporiabrands.com. Available through Coe Vintners, Speciality Drinks and Venus, as well as online retailers including MasterOfMalt.com, and TheDrinkShop.com
THE NOILLY PRAT CLASSIC DRY MARTINI COCKTAIL CHALLENGE
NOILLY PRAT®, one of the world’s finest French vermouths, kicked off its first ever International Noilly Prat classic dry martini challenge on 1 September 2014 with some of the world’s best bartenders judged by leading drinks experts. In recognition of Noilly Prat’s rightful place in the history of this iconic cocktail, 2 of the 4 markets participating have already caused a stir at the brand’s home in Marseillan showcasing their individual take on the classic dry martini cocktail. With the winners from the DachNordic and UK markets having been selected, there will be fierce competition at the upcoming heats with the French and US markets in early 2015 to earn the all expenses paid trip to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York in May 2015.
SETTING THE SCENE
What better setting to host the Noilly Prat classic dry martini cocktail challenge than at the home of Noilly Prat, situated in the pretty fishing village of Marseillan that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The challenge begins with an exclusive tour of La Maison Noilly Prat where both competitors and judges are given the opportunity to discover the closely guarded secrets of creating Noilly Prat.
From the tasting of the local grape varietals picpoul and clairette that are used in the creation of Noilly Prat Original Dry, to the discovery of the unique outdoor ageing process of L’Enclos and the time-honoured process used to blend the secret recipe of herbs and spices, the guests uncover over 200 years of history and heritage, which has made Noilly Prat world-renowned amongst the top on-trade.
THE CHALLENGE. THE RULES.
Having been immersed into the long-standing craftsmanship of Louis Noilly’s original recipe, the bartenders were charged with the seemingly simple, but notoriously complex challenge of creating the world’s best tasting classic dry martini cocktail at Le Bar Noilly Prat. Participants were judged on the complete experience, from the serving ritual and storytelling through to the temperature, glassware and taste of the serve, which must use only 3 ingredients.
THE WORLD’S BEST TASTING NOILLY PRAT CLASSIC DRY MARTINI COCKTAIL
With the winner from the DachNordic market, Gabriel Daun, and the winner from the UK market, Steve Lawson with his serve French Pride, we wait with anticipation to discover the winner of the French and US heats, with the international winner of the Noilly Prat classic dry martini cocktail challenge being announced in April 2015. http://www.noillyprat.com
Carl Brown, from Dishoom has won the Vintage to Visionary competition, a collaboration between The Bitter Truth ™ – Bitters & Liqueurs and Hayman Distillers, the English gin distiller whose family have been making gin since 1863. The winning recipes are listed below.
The brief laid down by the team at Love Drinks, the UK distributor of the two companies and organiser of the competition, was simple– create two cocktails – one Vintage and one Visionary – using any of the products in the range.
Eight bartenders headed down to the Queen of Hoxton to compete for the £1000 prize but Carl, with his two drinks, the Senior Service Julep and Mother’s Fix, which used a homemade tangerine shrub, which was smoked and then aged, edged the judges’ decisions.
The judges included Alexander Hauck, Co-Founder of The Bitter Truth ™ – Bitters & Liqueurs; James Hayman, Managing Director of Hayman’s and Clinton Cawood from Imbibe.
The competition was extremely close. So much so that the judges’ awarded two joint second places to Gabor Onufer from Claridges and Ami St Claire from Sohe in Newcastle. Both contestants were praised on their drinks making skills and innovative take on the brief. Ami for her homemade cocktail candy floss and gin soaked marshmallows and Gabor for his excellently made Voyager which used Claret and was mixed in a crystal wine decanter.
Speaking about the competition, Carl Brown, whose job title Daru-wallah, literally translates into the ‘drinks guy’, said: “We use both Hayman’s gins and the Bitter Truth in our bars so for me, this was a competition that I wanted to enter and win. Making great drinks was just one element of the competition; I really enjoyed researching the two companies. Hayman’s because of their history and heritage and The Bitter Truth because of their passion and commitment to making cocktail ingredients in order to recreate drinks that might have been lost forever were it not for them. What really shone out for me was the commitment from both companies to using the best quality ingredients which is why I wanted to create excellent drinks for the judging panel to enjoy.”
The other competitors in the competition include; Niall McGloin from Smokestack in Leeds; Michael Mann from City of London Distillery; Tom De Santis from Electrik in Manchester; Amir Javaid from Epernay in Manchester and Lucy Horncastle from NOLA.
The recipes for Carl’s drinks are as follows:
VINTAGE – Senior Service Julep
Glass: Indian Copper Julep Cup
Garnish: Bushel of mint and twist of grapefruit
Method: Churn ingredients with crushed ice, then cap with more ice
40ml Hayman’s Royal Dock Navy Strength Gin
20ml The Bitter Truth Elderflower Liqueur
15ml English honey syrup (1:1)
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
VISIONARY – Mother’s Fix
Garnish: Candied orange peel
Method: Tap off shrub from barrel over chipped ice. Add gin, bitters and soda. Stir.
30ml Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
4 dashes The Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters
Dash of soda
Method: Combine ingredients with hickory smoke in barrel and leave for one week.
300ml tangerine juice
150ml lemon juice
25ml fresh ginger juice
100ml Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
The Bitter Truth Range of Bitter and Liqueurs and Hayman’s Gins are distributed in the UK by Love Drinks.