Enter The Coco Lopez And El Dorado Cocktail Challenge

A £1,000 cash prize is up for grabs for the winner of this year’s Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge, in association with Hamilton Beach , to be staged at The Liar’s Club in Manchester on Tuesday, March 18 from 3pm, on the first day of the Northern Restaurant & Bar Show.

Bartenders and mixologists should register as soon as possible for the competition, organised by Bennett Opie, which distributes Coco Lopez, a natural cream of coconut product, in the UK .

Opie’s cocktail expert James Coston said: “Competitors will need to submit two drinks. One must be a Twisted Pina Colada, the mixologist’s own twist on the classic cocktail, containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.

“The second can be a cocktail invention of their choice, though it must contain at least 20ml Coco Lopez, and again the three or five-year-old El Dorado Rum. Both drinks must be blended with a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender, which will be provided.”

James said the Coco Lopez & El Dorado Cocktail Challenge was a test of all-round skills, imagination and wit.

“Banter and performance will score highly and ingredients, measurements, garnish and vessel are all determined by the bartender and can be as outrageous as you like,” he said. “The use of Bennett Opie cocktail cherries for garnish is highly recommended.”

Entrants should email James with their recipes. Judges will pick their 10 favourites and their creators will be invited to demonstrate them in the final.

“The best cocktail in the top 10 wins its creator the £1,000 prize and a bottle of 21-year-old El Dorado Rum,” said James. “The creator of the best Pina Colada wins a Hamilton Beach Tempest blender.”

Entrants should email James Coston at jcoston@b-opie.com with their recipes by midnight on Saturday, March 1 with the following information:

Name of competitor
Name and location of the bar where you work
Email address
Contact phone number
Ingredients in ml
Method (of second drink)
Cocktail names

The top 10 entrants will be contacted by email at noon on Saturday, March 8 and invited to the March 18 final.

For further information visit the Coco Lopez Cocktail Challenge Facebook page.

Coco Lopez is available from good stockists including http://www.thedrinkshop.com. For more information about the product, contact the Bennett Opie sales team on 01795 476154 or visit http://www.b-opie.com.

Auchentoshan Switch Winner Announced


LONDON. 2nd OCTOBER 2013: Aidan Bowie from The Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow, battled it out against 11 of the most talented and creative bartenders on the continent to become the European winner of the Auchentoshan Switch – the transatlantic mixology competition like no other. Aidan’s prize will be to “switch” continents with the North American winner and spend two weeks working in the prestigious Dead Rabbit in New York City.

Last night’s European final was held at a unique warehouse location in London Bridge where the finalists were put through a series of challenging mixology tasks that were judged by an esteemed panel:
* Rachel Barrie, Auchentoshan Master Blender
* Edmund Weil, co-owner, Nightjar
* Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan), cocktail genius

In each round, the finalists demonstrated their skill and creativity in front of the judges and guests. The first round ‘Creativity and Presentation’ saw the bartenders present their original competition entry of their Auchentoshan Three Wood creation. Round two ‘Working Under Pressure’ tested bartenders’ ability to think on their feet with a secret bag of ingredients given to them just minutes before their presentation. The final round, ‘A Cocktail Showdown’, saw the two outstanding finalists create Rachel Barrie’s favourite cocktail, Blood and Sand.

The competition has been happening throughout the summer, with mixologists from the UK, Sweden, Germany and across the pond in North America entering via the Auchentoshan website and then attending regional heats in their countries. The actual Switch will take place in 2014 when the North American bartender will spend two weeks at the highly acclaimed Nightjar in Old Street, London. The North American final takes place in New York City at the end of this month.
Jennifer Meenan, Brand Manager for Auchentoshan said “This year’s Auchentoshan Switch has seen such a high level of skill from the bartending world. We wanted the competition to reflect the brand’s personality and we feel that last night’s European final did just this with something totally unique. We can’t wait to see what happens in the North American final. Next stop New York.”

Edmund Weil, competition judge and soon to be mentor of the North American winner alongside the Nightjar team, commented: “The Switch finalists showed so much talent and passion in their Auchentoshan Three Wood creations, the judges were blown away and some difficult decisions had to be made but Aidan just had the edge”.

Award winning Auchentoshan Three Wood is the chosen expression for all Auchentoshan Switch entries as its complex flavours add tremendous dimension to whisky cocktails. As with all Auchentoshan whisky, Three Wood is triple distilled, which produces an immensely smooth spirit. It is matured in three different types of casks – first in North American Bourbon casks, then in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks and finally in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, a wood famed for drama and darkness. This triple cask maturation produces a rich whisky with deep toffee and sherry oak influences, a touch of hazelnut with hints of cinnamon and lemon and a butterscotch sweetness that adds to the overall complexity. It is produced at the Auchentoshan Distillery which was established in 1823 and has produced triple distilled whisky since this time. It is located in the Lowland region of Scotland, on the outskirts of Glasgow and is the city’s only distillery. Its name, pronounced “ock-un-tosh-un”, means “corner of the field” which is evident to visitors as the distillery sits near farmland on the banks of the River Clyde, in the shadow of the Old Kilpatrick hills between Glasgow and Loch Lomond.

Homegrown Talent Wins Olmeca’s Tahona Society Cocktail Competition

Olmeca Tequila Announces the 2013 Winners of The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition

Mexican bartender Jose Luis Leon was crowned the winner of the fourth Tahona Society Cocktail Competition last Friday (27th September), winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USA to work alongside the US bartending legend, Charles Joly, at the Aviary in Chicago.

The grand final took place on the rooftop bar of the Demetria hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico, with 15 top bartenders from 11 countries around the world – including China, Russia, the UK and South Africa – competing to produce the best Tequila cocktails, made using Olmeca Altos. Leon – who works at Licoreria Limantour in Mexico City – emerged as the unanimous winner, with the UK’s Emma Tanner and Chris Mosey taking second and third places respectively.

The esteemed judging panel included Tequila expert and creator of the world-famous Tommy’s Margarita, Julio Bermejo; renowned American bartender, Charles Joly; 2012 Tahona Society Cocktail Competition winner, Heinz Kaiser and CLASS Magazine’s bars editor, Jane Ryan. The judging criteria included the presentation of the cocktail; the bartender’s performance; evidence of the agave flavour and the overall balance of the cocktail. Leon’s winning cocktail was a unique blend of Olmeca Altos Blanco, Noilly Prat vermouth, agave syrup, lemon, celery juice with mango, cactus and coriander micro greens, which the judges felt enhanced the natural agave flavour of Olmeca Altos Blanco perfectly.

Jose Luis Leon, said: “Taking part in the Tahona Society Cocktail competition has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life – I’m so proud to have won the final and I can’t believe that I will now have the opportunity to go the US to learn from Charles Joly and his team at the Aviary – it’s a real dream come true for me. Growing up and working in the Mexican bar scene, I have always been passionate about Tequila and it’s been fantastic to share this passion with like-minded bartenders from around the world through the Tahona Society. I would definitely encourage bartenders everywhere to get involved – it’s a great way to get real insight and knowledge about the Tequila category and ultimately, learn from some of the best bartenders in the world.”

Head judge, Julio Bermejo commented: “Congratulations to Luis for his wonderful cocktail – it really showed off the magnificent agave flavour that is evident in Olmeca Altos. It’s fantastic to see all these up-and-coming bartenders learning so much about the wonderful spirit that is Tequila through the Tahona Society, so hats off to Olmeca for supporting this unique initiative within the Tequila industry. What I love about this competition is the fact that it really allows bartenders to be creative in their quest for the best Tequila cocktail. The rules are kept to a minimum to allow the bartenders licence to have some real fun and that’s what Tequila is all about. It’s been really encouraging to see the international bartender community really embracing quality Tequila with such passion and enthusiasm – long may it continue!”

The Tahona Society was set up in 2009 by Olmeca and Worldwide Cocktail Club founders, Dré Masso and the late Henry Besant, to celebrate the ancient art of true Tequila production – the Tahona process – and provide bartenders around the world with in-depth knowledge of the Tequila category through training from world-class Tequila and bartender experts.

The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition took place at the end of a week-long trip to Mexico, during which Tahona Society educators, Steffin Oghene and Matthias Lataille, hosted the 15 finalists as they travelled to the town of Tequila to witness two different styles of Tequila production. The group then travelled to Arandas to meet Olmeca’s Master Distiller, Jesús Hernández, for a tour of the Olmeca distillery. Hernández also led a comparative Tequila tasting and an off-field road trip around the agave fields of Jalisco.

For further information about the Tahona Society, please visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TahonaSociety or contact Olmeca brand advocacy manager, Alexander Gorokhovsky at alexander.gorokhovsky@pernod-ricard.com


Bénédictine Crowns Manchester’s Cocktail Champion

Tom Higham, Paul Curry & Amir Javaid - Benedictine Competition (Manchester)

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.

Inaugural Wild Turkey Bourbon UK Cocktail Champion 2013

Wild Turkey

Gruppo Campari’s Wild Turkey Bourbon has announced the winner of it’s first UK Cocktail Competition held at the The Liquorists HQ in Manchester.

Henry Yates of Boilermaker in Nottingham clinched the top prize after competing with 10 of the best bartenders from across the UK in an exciting and heated battle to be crowned Wild Turkey Cocktail Champion 2013. Henry’s unanimous winning cocktail named ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ voted by judges Simon Difford of Diffordsguide.com, Martin Taylor of Wild Turkey, and Hugo Mills of Gruppo Campari demonstrated passion, talent and an understanding of the kind of patience, outstanding attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes in to creating the perfect Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey cocktail.

Henry said of his creation “My inspiration for the peach, ice tea and mint cocktail originated from Wild Turkey country. I wanted to create a cocktail with ingredients which are readily available, as an introduction to Bourbon.” ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ flavours were perfectly designed to compliment Wild Turkey 81 reflecting on it’s laid back nature. Henry added ” I am genuinely ecstatic about winning, the standard of talent was so high I can’t believe I am the Wild Turkey cocktail Champion.”

The 2 runners up Will Cox of Bon Vivant in Edinburgh and Michael Presley Sharpe of Milk Thistle in Bristol delivered their cocktails ‘Stuffed Turkey’ and ‘Feather of the Foul’ with flair and passion, worthy of a national final of this calibre. All three will now head to Kentucky on an all expenses paid trip visiting the Wild Turkey distillery, meeting Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell and attending the annual National Bourbon Festival. In addition, Henry will be presented with a bottle of Wild Turkey Forgiven, a high-end bourbon and rye blend signed by father and son Jimmy and Eddie.

The competition, which launched in July to seek out the best whiskey bartender in the country, received hundreds of entries from right across the UK. With entrants competing in exciting regional heats, taking place in the 5 host cities (Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and London), 11 of the best cocktail makers were selected to go head to head in the national final on 2nd September.

The contestants were asked to make two drinks, a signature cocktail of their choice as well as a twist on a classic cocktail. Contestants were given 5 minutes preparation time followed by a maximum of 10 minutes to make, perfect and present their creations to the judges.

Wild Turkey
The Right To Freeze Peach (courtesy of Tone Photographer)

To Make ‘The Right to Freeze Peach‘ by Henry Yates , the Wild Turkey Cocktail Champion’s signature cocktail, you will need;

50ml Wild Turkey 81
10ml Crème de peche
20ml Peach syrup (canned)
10ml Lemon juice
100ml Iced black tea (Chinese)
6 drops of Grapefruit bitters

Shake over ice, strain and serve in an empty peach tin can with a sprig of mint and garnish with a Wild Turkey 101 atomised peach slice.

Eddie Russell launched the competition during his whirlwind tour of the UK in July, which saw him travel from the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky to present master classes in six cities across the country.
Christophe Schaillee, Regional Director Europe at Campari International, said, “It was a wonderful opportunity to have Eddie Russell launching the first ever UK Wild Turkey Cocktail competition and at the same time host the master Bourbon classes. Wild Turkey is very respected by bartenders and is becoming very fashionable with consumers, and this is a great occasion for audiences to know and appreciate the brand even more. We are very proud of our product and these events are the best way to show the uniqueness and versatility of Wild Turkey.”

The national finalists were;

· Rosie Paterson of Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh and Will Cox of Bon Vivant, Edinburgh, winners of the Glasgow heat at Luac Bar
· Michael Sharper of Milk Thistle, winner of the Bristol heats at Haus Bar
· Benji Purslow of Archer Street and Nicholas Quattroville of Social Eating House, winners of the London heats which took place in The Hawksmoor
· Ed Belshaw of World Service Restaurant & Lounge Bar, Henry Yates from Boilermaker and Lucy Jane Horncastle of The Victoria, Birmingham who won the heats at Nottingham’s Brass Monkey
· Laurie Eaton of Berry & Rye, Liverpool ,Tim Laferla of Mr Coopers House & Garden and Jamie Jones of The Liquorists who won the Manchester heat, judged at Manchester’s Dusk til Pawn

Olmeca Announces The UK Winner Of The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition

Chris Mosey of Hula Bar with his winning cocktail, ‘Olmeca you a Boss Martini’

Bartenders from across the UK paid tribute to the late bartending legend and Tahona Society co-founder, Henry Besant, at the UK final of the Tahona Society Cocktail Competition last week, with Chris Mosey of Hula Bar in Manchester walking away with the honours for his ‘Olmeca you a Boss Martini’ cocktail.

Mosey will represent the UK as he competes against bartenders from across the world at the grand final of the fourth international Tahona Society Cocktail Competition in Mexico this September, having beaten competition from nine of the country’s best bartenders to win the UK leg.

Held in London at Wahaca Soho, the final was judged by an expert panel including Olmeca Altos brand ambassadors, Matthias Lataille and Pedro Garvoa, last year’s winner of the UK Tahona Society final, Gareth Evans of Pollen Street Social, and as a nod to Henry who passed away earlier this year, his close friend and fellow industry stalwart, Jake Burger, was the honorary chairman of the panel.

Nerves were running high amongst the 10 bartenders as they competed to make the best cocktail using Olmeca Altos 100% agave Tequila. Chris Mosey’s winning cocktail was a unique blend of Olmeca Altos Reposado, Muscat and Strega. Judges praised the interesting combination of bitter liqueur and sweet wine, which they said “combined perfectly” with the Reposado Tequila.

Mosey had close competition for first place, with Dan Priseman of NOLA Bar coming second with his ‘El Chapolin’ cocktail, a twist on the grasshopper cocktail, combining Manzanilla Sherry, Dark Cacao Liqueur and White Crème de Menthe with Olmeca Altos Reposado. Dan impressed the judges with his engaging, creative performance, which included getting his rivals to shake his cocktail as he chatted to the judges, before revealing the collaborative drink was just for him.

Speaking after the UK heat, Olmeca Altos brand ambassador Matthias Lataille, said: “The quality of the cocktails at the UK final was once again of the highest standard, so the judges had a tough time choosing a winner. Chris delighted the judges with his banter and produced a very well balanced cocktail, recreating a Vermouth using a Bitter Liqueur and a sweet wine. His creation was a great example of how a brave and creative approach to a traditional cocktail can produce an exciting new drink that really enhances the natural flavours of Tequila, complimenting the flavours of Olmeca Altos Reposado perfectly.

The competition celebrates such creativity in mixology, and we keep our rules to a minimum to allow the bartenders licence to have some real fun. It’s great to see the UK bartender community continuing Henry’s legacy with the Tahona Society and really embracing Tequila with such passion and enthusiasm. All of us at Olmeca are looking forward to welcoming the winning bartenders from each of the participating country to Mexico next month for the grand final and helping them take their Tequila expertise to the next level.”

Chris Mosey, winner of the UK final, said: “Taking part in the Tahona Society Cocktail competition has been an amazing experience so far – I’m so proud and happy to have won the UK final and I can’t quite believe that I get to go to Mexico to compete in the grand final! I’ve learnt so much about Tequila since I became involved in the Tahona Society so I’m really grateful to Olmeca for supporting this initiative and making it possible for bartenders like me to get involved in such a fun and creative cocktail competition and to simply get together to share our passion for great Tequila. I’m really looking forward to representing Manchester – and the rest of the UK – in Mexico next month; I’m sure it’s going to be a memorable week!”

The Tahona Society is an exclusive global community of the world’s most Tequila-passionate, professional bartenders. Set up in 2009 by Olmeca and Worldwide Cocktail Club founders, Dré Masso and the late Henry Besant, The Tahona Society already has more than 1,500 members from around the world. Members have benefited from expert training from world-class authorities on Tequila, which includes insight into the origins of the spirit, its industrialisation and the history of the authentic Tahona process, as well as exploring the art of bartending with Tequila.

The International Tahona Society Cocktail Competition, which is open globally to members of The Tahona Society, was set up to complement the association’s goal of offering bartenders the chance to showcase their individual skills and gain international exposure. International heats have also taken place in key markets such as Russia, Turkey and Greece, and heats in the US will take place in early September.