Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix Hits Manchester

DSC_3714-01

The Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix rolled into Manchester this afternoon as The Liars Club played host to eleven of north England’s best bartenders as they competed to impress and earn a place to the UK final.

Yours truly was sat on the judging panel, alongside Havana Club Global Brand Ambassador Meimi Sanchez, UK Brand Ambassador Mike Foster, and bar consultant Jamie Jones.

With a brief that all bartenders must utilize at least 35 ml of Havana Club 3 year as the base, as well as serving it within a recycled vessel (essentially an item not normally associated with a drinking vessel), the competition threw up some interesting ideas. Lets take a look at some of the highlights from each competitor!

Lee Jones from Smokestack, Leeds was the first to enter the bar, with his serve named Cuban Cradle, as he showed off a blend of Havana Club, Amaro Montenegro and a grapefruit syrup with a touch of sea salt, garnished with an absinthe spray and served within a melted down bottle. Selina Raggett of Hawksmoor, Manchester looked to impress with Havana Club, grapefruit and sherbet syrup, Manzanilla sherry, lime juice and rhubarb bitters; a recipe she named Buena Vista Cocktail Club and served within a shell that sat atop of a Cuban music box.

James of Dandy Longlegs in Sunderland offered the judges El Independiente, a mix of Havana Club, Monin Jasmin, fresh mango and Coco Real, served within a hollowed out mango secured to a drumstick, coming complete with the drum too! Roberto of Bottega in Manchester showed some of his Italian side as he utilized Martini Extra Dry alongside Havana Club, St Germaine and fresh orange juice, all served within a hollowed out, frozen orange that he named the European Daiquiri.

HC3YO-thumb2Georgia Thresh of Tariff and Dale in Manchester was up next, showcasing her idea she called Rhubarb . . . . . and of course Custard. This saw a combination of Havana Club, a rhubarb, fresh and stemmed ginger infusion, egg, vanilla extract and rhubarb bitters within an old candle holder, served with sweets for her garnish. James Cooper of Dusk til Pawn, also in Manchester, came up with an idea that included Havana Club, mango and chilli jam, Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub Cocktail Bitters, lime juice and mint leaves. Naming it Compeñero, he served it within a sandwich container, complete with a Cuban sandwich to match.

Tiger Hornsby of Newcastle were also represented by Steve, who showed off Havana Club, Cazcabel Honey, apricot infused Lillet Blanc, Bob’s Bitters and fresh lemon, served within the bottle neck of a cut Havana 3yr bottle and naming it Primera Dama, or First Lady. Dan from Banyan, one of Manchester’s newest venues, brought to the bar a recipe he named The Old and the New. This saw Havana Club, grapefruit juice, lime, apricot brandy and pineapple and passion-fruit syrup come together within a cut Havana 7yr bottle.

Dan Edwards from No.28 Bar and Bistro in Newcastle showed off his idea named Ambos Mundos, seeing Havana Club, lime, pink grapefruit juice, agave syrup and maraschino come together and served within a Cuban cigar holder. Steve Levanis of Mojo Bar, Manchester went for La Fortunada, a recipe consisting of Havana Club, honey water and citric acid, Lillet and egg white, served from a huge hollowed out lighter with a grapefruit zest.

Amir Javaid of Harvey Nichols 2nd Floor Bar in Manchester was the last to impress the judging panel, utilizing Havana Club, a hay smoked pineapple syrup, lemon, Velvet Falernum and Angostura Bitters. Calling it All Along the Watchtower, he served it within a milk carton and sprayed over a rhubarb, black tea and almond liqueur.

Of course though, despite all eleven impressing in their own way, there was to only be one winner, earning a place in the UK final and going up against the cream of the crop from cities around the UK. Congratulations to Selina Raggett of Hawksmoor, Manchester! With her inspiration of Cuban culture, specifically music, and tying it in with her unique serving vessel, her Buena Vista Cocktail Club will hopefully impress further as she looks to bring the title of Havana Club Grand Prix 2015 home to Manchester!

Buena Vista Cocktail Club, by Selina Raggett, Hawksmoor, Manchester

60 ml Havana Club 3yr
20 ml Grapefruit sherbet syrup
20 ml Lime juice
10 ml Manzanilla sherry
2 dash Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Shaken over ice and served within a sea shell.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Jamie Jones From Fumo in Manchester Wins A Place In The UK Final Of World Class 2015

Jamie Jones

Following rounds of intense competition and exceptional creativity from all competitors Jamie Jones from Fumo in Manchester has been crowned as a WORLD CLASS semi-final winner. Having risen above 45 other regional finalists in yesterday’s heats, they will now go on to compete in the UK final of one of the industry’s biggest and most prestigious bartending competitions.

Jamie Jones from Fumo is the top bartender in Manchester and part of the first five bartenders through to the final. Mixing and shaking their way alongside him will be Luca Corradini from the American Bar at The Savoy, Tim Laferla from Red Bar at Bam-Bou, Kyle Wilkinson from The Blind Pig and Jon Hughes from Bramble Bar, as all five proceed to the next stage of the competition. This highly anticipated UK final will take place at Drummuir Castle in Scotland in June, and comprise of an additional five semi-finalists who are to be announced in April.

Here is Jamie Jones winning semi-finalist cocktail:

The Bulleivardier

40ml Bulleit Rye
20ml Campari
20ml Cinnamon, orange and coffee adam infused sweet vermouth
5ml Pedro Ximinez sherry

METHOD: All stirred with ice, poured into a high ball glass and garnished orange twist

(3 UNITS)

Daniel Dove, DIAGEO RESERVE WORLD CLASS™ Brand Ambassador commented: “WORLD CLASS is a celebration of the world’s best bartenders, the world’s best drinks and the world’s best spirits. The competition itself aims to inspire the world to drink better, and to care about what, where and how they drink in the same way they do about food. Our new semi-finalists have the skill, creativity and ambition to do just that.

“This year we have put competing bartenders through the paces more than ever, with rigorous challenges designed to test their sensory, accuracy, hosting and mixology skills. The standard has been higher than ever and we can’t wait to see our finalists compete for a place in the global final, taking place in South Africa this September.”

As well as taking the esteemed title of the UK World Class Bartender of the Year and representing his or her country in the global final in South Africa, the winner will travel the world educating and inspiring new talent. Further advancing their career, they will become a World Class judge and mentor, feature on the World Class TV show, and have the opportunity to create their own cocktail collection book to be released globally. The bar they work in will not only benefit from the prestige of working with the UK World Class Bartender of the Year, but will also be awarded a one-off £10,000 marketing fund to create their own, exclusive World Class ritual serve.

Each year WORLD CLASS™ discovers the next generation of bartending talent who set the latest mixology trends and bring these to the best bars worldwide. The bartenders are encouraged to innovate and experiment using some of the finest spirits in the world.

The competition can be followed on the World Class website http://www.theworldclassclub.com , on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WorldClass, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/WorldClass or on http://www.youtube.com/WorldClassGlobal.

Fever Tree With The Ultimate Gin And Tonic Tour

Fever Tree

Gin and tonic. One of the most easily recognisable drinks in the world, and very easy to replicate. Made at home, at your favourite bar, by your mum, gran, bartender or waiter, there’s nothing you could do wrong with the creation of a gin and tonic.

Or is there?

Fever Tree, a brand that has made head-way in the tonic category, have organised an enlightening tour of three cities here in the UK. Bristol, Glasgow and my own home town of Manchester are the settings for what they have dubbed as ‘The Ultimate Gin and Tonic Tour’, and aim to divulge into the depths of the tonic category, and how we came to know what will be in your hand for most of the evening; the G&T.

Craig Harper talks you through the world of tonic
Craig Harper talks you through the world of tonic

The tours are consumer focused, bringing the gin lovers, novices and haters together for an informal chat in some fantastic locations, and yours truly had the opportunity to sneak peek at what would be involved, with a session hosted by Craig Harper, the face of Fever Tree and gin legend within the category, with help from David Barber, the northern representative for Fever Tree and ex Caorunn gin brand ambassador, and Jamie Jones, who in 2013 was crowned Global Gin Connoisseur by G’Vine.

If you’re looking to hit the Manchester trail, The Rosylee Tearooms in Stevenson Square brings together your first tonic and gin combination; Tanqueray with the classic Fever Tree Indian Tonic. Whilst being given the chance to pour your own bottle of tonic over your gin to your liking, Craig walks through what tonic actually is, and how the likes of malaria, World Wars and fluorescent lights have impacted our views on tonic water and what we perceive it as. Don’t let those three words fool you though as Craig explains how we come to the more well-known brands seen today, and ultimately Fever Tree itself, with interesting demos on an original gin and tonic recipe, and the bottles used before the capped varieties we are used to these days.

Cane and Grain in Manchester’s Northern Quarter offers a speakeasy styled bar that is perfect for another gin and tonic, this time being Portobello Road. Jamie gives some fantastic insight into the brand itself, the category of gin and the timeline that has given us some highs and lows, including the famed ‘Gin Lane’ and the rise of the latest ‘gin craze’. Comparisons between tonic waters, especially the Indian styles and lighter versions, are also explored, an experiment rarely done at home I can imagine, and gives a different view on the styles available, with Craig explaining why the market for tonic waters is growing as the palates of consumers is changing.

Fever Tree Elderflower and Bloom
Fever Tree Elderflower and Bloom

Lastly, Mr Cooper’s House and Garden takes the gin category to the ‘New Western’, and gives Jamie a chance to explain the new craze that has given us the likes of Bloom, Monkey 47, Tanqueray 10 and Gin Mare. It also though, highlights the need for the perfect garnish and how gaining the right ingredient can make all the difference to your gin and tonic experience. Blending the likes of Bloom with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic offers a lighter experience than the Indian tonic would do, giving the botanicals within Bloom (chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo are within amongst others) a fighting chance to tantalize, instead of being cut down to size and perhaps not giving the full impression you would expect. Or how about Gin Mare, that comes garnished with a sprig of thyme? Perfectly compliments the basil and rosemary for example, and accentuates the thyme botanical within the gin itself.

Essentially, Fever Tree are looking to break down the gin and tonic, explaining the origins, the flavours and aromas, whilst giving insight into the many gins available, and the perfect Fever Tree and garnish to accompany. Why would you want to miss out?!

Grab your tickets here!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Liquorists Gincident Review

Gincident

If you live in Manchester, or indeed the North, or just have yourself access to social media or have a friend who’s a bartender, you may have come across the tag-team of The Liquorists. The pairing of Tom Sneesby and Jody Monteith have given us many a night since their inception back in 2010, with their most commonly known trait coming in the form of their trails. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a fair few of these over the last year or so, and the reason why it’s many and not just the one is purely for the reasons of the following –

– Offer new and exciting bars to visit
– Showcase spirits that combine classic and new-age brands
– Deep knowledge that caters for all levels of expertise
– Food to match and compliment the spirit style

Many of these trails sell out in a heartbeat, but none as quickly as there summer expedition – Gincident.

Messa-gin a Bottle
Messa-gin a Bottle

Gincident offers all of the above list minus the bars. Reason why? The setting comes in the form of a canal barge. And from the name, gin is the choice of tipple. So, add 25 people to a barge with 5 brands of gin and what was described as a botanical feast of food and what do you get? Myself wanting to get onto the next trail immediately. Role on trail number 13! But how have I come to this conclusion?

Greeted by L.S. Lowry (the boat, not the artist) of City Centre Cruises at Castlefield Locks, the expanded Liquorists line-up were on hand to walk us safely aboard. Jamie Jones of pop-up Manchester bars fame The Yacht Club and Moose Bar amongst others, was to play host, with Craig MacDonald his trusty side-kick. Not forgetting original Liquorists member Jody Monteith was to be on hand to create us our five gin based cocktails on the boats very own bar.

Once on our merry way towards Salford Quays, the aforementioned botanical feast was served, all cooked and created by chef Hannah Eddleston. With dishes that included cured salmon with dill, spiced ham hock with juniper and cous cous, spicy chicken drumsticks on white bean salad and a savoury strawberry salad with feta cheese. Using inspiration from not only the gin brands of the evening, but the botanicals within them, Hannah served up a treat that from looking around the boat, left many an empty plate. Same could be said for our welcome drink – a round of G’Vine Nouaison and Fever Tree tonics for us all. 

Jamie Jones, who this year has won one of the worlds premier gin competitions – the G’Vine Gin Connoisseurs Programme, is the right man to talk to us all about gin itself, its history and how gin is created. I’m not going to go into detail about gin itself, that you can find by clicking on each brand that was available on the evening. Whilst Jamie was talking all things gin, Craig dished out neat samples of Bols Genever, Pymouth and G’Vine Floraison for us all to try. Three completely different styles, with Bols offering the sweeter juniper palate, Plymouth more your usual style gin, and G’Vine the new-age French floral. Plymouth was the tipple of choice for The Liquorists first cocktail offering of the evening – Hogarths Fizz. Combining sugar, lemon juice and camomile with a dusting of nutmeg gave this cocktail a smooth citrus feel with subtle aromas and bursts of freshness.

A personal favourite of mine, Martin Millers, was up next, and in true Liquorists pun fashion, the aptly named Messa-gin in a Bottle came within their own green bottle and brown paper bag. Using Martin Millers, home-made kaffir lime juice, orange bitters, jasmine tea and their own ginger beer, it created something rather unique, with huge bold flavours of fresh lime and ginger blending well with the Martin Millers and jasmine tea. One that you didn’t want to end, which is surely a good sign?

La Floraison De'tre
La Floraison De’tre

One gin that I’m very familiar with is Warrington based BLOOM. A brand that I’ve created cocktails for in the past, i was interested to see how The Liquorists would do with their Rosie and Gin (they love their puns). A mixture of BLOOM, strawberry liqueur, lime juice and topped within a jam jar with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic created one of the stronger cocktails of the evening, but more due to its bolder statement. The flavours did mellow as the drink went on, with the BLOOM complimenting the strawberry and lime.

Onto the French now, and as most of you know, although I represent this brand here in the UK, I came at the following with an unbiased opinion. G’Vine Nouaison, the stronger out of the two expressions was used as the base gin for the 22nd Century Cocktail. A twist of the original 20th Century Cocktail that was created back in 1937, it came with a blend of G’Vine, lemon juice, crème de cacao white and topped with tonic. In no simpler words, and being a massive chocolate fan, it tasted like chocolate orange in a glass. If your like Dawn French and me, you’ll love this tipple.

The last cocktail of the Gincident came again with a twist to not only a recipe, but an award-winning recipe. Jamie Jones offered the gathering his own creation that won him the title of G’Vine Connoisseur as mentioned above. Despite a few changes to his recipe, his La Floraison De’tre gave the finish the night deserved. G’Vine Floraison, egg white, olive oil, lemon juice, apricot liqueur and Fever Tree Sicilian Lemonade with a rose petal to garnish added a touch of sophistication as Salford Quays lit up both the boat and the night sky.

Heading back to Castlefield, The Liquorists made sure we were comfortable, well watered and fed before disembarking the barge for the evening. There tag of #nohangoverguaranteed is 100% correct yet again. Well done guys.

To get yourselves on The Liquorists trails, check them out via there website or twitter.

Check out the rest of my photos via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.