As we passed the halfway mark of the heats in The Chivas Masters UK competition we were back in London again, this time in the hip setting of McQueen in Shoreditch. It may have been a cloudy, grey Monday but our bartenders were all set to get the sun shining inside for a chance to secure their place in the the London final on the 3rd June.
As with the previous heats the participating bartenders had a tough task ahead of them, to deliver their take on four key periods in cocktail history and the part played in them by Chivas. The eras in question? The Classic Age, The Post-War Boom, The Disco Years and The Age of Revivalism. We were in for drinks with jelly, chocolate, blue drinks and a charcoal garnish.
When: 28 April Where: McQueen, London Who (Competitors): Enrique Gomez, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi; Bianca Hepworth, Hoxley and Porter; Michael Mann, Exhibit. (Judges): Phil Huckle, Brand Ambassador, Pernod Ricard UK Prestige; Emily Collins, Brand Ambassador, Pernod Ricard UK Prestige; The Cocktail Lovers.
First up was Enrique Gomez from Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in Covent Garden. Enrique obviously enjoyed his experience, happily weaving in his knowledge about the four cocktail periods and Chivas history. As for his drinks, he demonstrated a very good understanding of flavour as well as a nice eye for detail, particularly noticeable in his cocktail for The Disco Years, Mr Scott Humble Bramble.
Taking inspiration from Dick Bradsell’s Bramble, he pulled off a nice variation. Rather than floating the crème de mure on top like the original, he chose to add it as an ingredient. At first glanced, it looked like he might be missing out on the visual appeal of Mr Bradsell’s modern classic but he had a little something up his sleeve in that department – charcoal powder. Yes, charcoal powder. Although, as he informed us, it had no taste, it created a pleasing effect when sprinkled on top of the finished drink, replicating the marbling of the crème de mure but in eye-catching black (see above).
Michael Mann from Exhibit went for the homemade element in his drinks. There was a cube of mead and heather honey jelly to dissolve in his hot toddy, Bill’s Demise for the The Classic Age, while his Dig For Victory cocktail for The Age of Revivalism went even further. Having created a carrot and beetroot cordial as one of the ingredients he also utilised the leftovers to create a side order of vegetables crisps to accompany the finished drink. Nice touch.
Proceedings were concluded by Bianca Hepworth from Hoxley and Porter who combined the Scottish origins of Chivas with her own personal stories of that particular country. These came together nicely for The Disco Years cocktail. Taking inspiration from the disco-tastic Blue Lagoon she played down the sweetness of the original, choosing instead to highlight the Chivas whilst retaining that all-important disco blue. She achieved this in spades with a homemade non-alcoholic blue ‘curaçao‘. The resulting Blue Bay looked the part but was altogether more Chivas friendly.
The winner and the judges reactions
All the competitors put their mark on the competition showcasing Chivas well as they journeyed throughout the four pivotal cocktail periods. However, it will be Enrique Gomez who’ll be putting in an appearance at the final on the 3rd June. “I thought Enrigue’s drinks were all very high quality, they were very creative with a lot of thought behind them”, said Phil Huckle, Brand Ambassador, Pernod Ricard UK Prestige. “His twist on a Bramble was just incredible, the best drink of the day – I think it will stand up very well in the final”. Emily Collins, also a Brand Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Prestige added: “Everyone demonstrated an interesting use of flavours but overall Enrigue’s drinks were the most flavoursome.” And it was the sheer flavour that also swung it for us – nailing depth and interest in every one of his four drinks.
A word from the winner
“The level today was really high. And the level in the final is going to be even higher. But I’m fired up, I’m ready for it!”
Enrique’s winning drinks
The Classic Age: Aberdeen Blossom 40ml Chivas 12 20ml Kamm and Sons 20ml lemon juice 10ml honey 5ml orange blossom water Method: Shake over ice and strain into a coupe glass. The Post War Boom: Sthratisla Fog Cutter 50ml Chivas 12 25ml beefeater 50ml orange juice 25ml lemon juice 12.5ml Grappa di Moscato Method: Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a Tiki mug. The Disco Years: Mr Scott Humble Bramble 50ml Chivas 12 25ml pomegranate sauce 15ml Crème de Mure 15ml gomme 5ml honey syrup Method: Shake all ingredients over ice cubes, strain into rocks glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with charcoal powder. The Age of Revivalism: 13 King Street Legacy 40ml Chivas 12 12.5ml Amaro Ramazzoti 12.5ml Mozart Dark Chocolate liqueur 1 dash chocolate bitters Method: Build all ingredients in a rocks glass and garnish with chocolate drops.
Enrigue will be competing in the Chivas Masters UK Final 3rd June. Next stop for the heats: Manchester. Follow all the action from The Chivas Masters here and via Twitter and Facebook. #ChivasMasters Exhibit theexhibit.co.uk Hoxley & Porter theexhibit.co.uk Sticks ‘n’ Sushi sticksnsushi.comMcQueen mcqueen-shoreditch.co.uk