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.
Georgia 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.