PATRÓN Perfectionists isn’t just another cocktail competition. It’s a program designed to stimulate, educate and motivate everyone taking part. Which goes beyond the 15 very talented global finalists. Having been on the panel of judges and mentors for this year’s series of challenges at the global final event in Mexico, we can honestly say that we’ve been inspired, too.
The setting certainly helped. As stunning as the photographs of the location are, they only tell half the story. Stimulation came from everywhere – the Hacienda PATRÓN and everyone who makes up the Familia PATRÓN – including the bartenders and Hacienda PATRÓN team; the terroir and the bounty of ingredients it yields. Add that to the expertise of Global Director of On-Trade Excellence for PATRÓN, and leader of the Perfectionists program, Lauren Mote and the various teams who made it all happen and you have the perfect recipe for a global final that made for a truly unforgettable experience.
It was all-change this year. Out goes the one presentation behind the bar scenario and in its place came three thrilling challenges spread over three days. Each took in a different set-up, drew on different facets of the bartenders’ skills and provided invaluable insights and appreciation of Tequila and Mexican culture as well as offering a masterclass in hospitality.
Also new for PATRÓN Perfectionists 2023: not one but four trophies. One for the person who dazzled and delighted the judges most in each challenge and one for the PATRÓN Perfectionists 2023 Global Winner. Background sorted, here’s a recap of what has been our favourite week of the year.
Challenge #1: ‘Field To Flavor‘
Presentation: Bartenders learned of the challenge concept and rules 30 minutes before they began
Take out: Discovering and experimenting with the flavours of Mexico
The first challenge was new and a surprise one, taking place in the spectacular setting of one of the PATRÓN grower collective’s agave fields. What better backdrop to showcase an array of fascinating and little-known ingredients from the region? Mamey, yaka, guayaba, xoconoxtle – they may not be familiar to anyone outside Mexico but they were just a few of the delights on display in the ‘Mexican Market Stall’. More than just looking good, each product was specially selected by local expert and judge, Chef Ana Martorell, for the bartenders to acquaint themselves with and be inspired by. The aim of the challenge? To create a cordial to use as a base in a unique and delicious highball comprising 45ml of PATRÓN Reposado Tequila topped with unflavoured soda.
With only 45 minutes to create said cordial (using a hitherto unknown ingredient plus supporting products from the PATRÓN pantry set up on site) this challenge tested the bartenders’ ability to think on the spot, keep calm under pressure and of course, showcase their understanding of flavour and how to make a super tasty drink. Which they did. In spades.
There was no verbal presentation, instead the creations were proffered to judges Ana Martorell, Giulia Cuccurrullo and ourseves by the PATRÓN waiting team, along with a recipe card completed by each competitor.
Challenge winner: Choni Song, China
Cocktail: Guanabana Highball
45ml PATRÓN Reposado Tequila
60ml Guanabana cordial*
Top with soda
Garnish: a slice of toasted Guanabana
100g honeydew melon
50g green bell peppers
Lime oleo saccharum (250g caster sugar:4 lime peels)
150ml lime juice
150ml St-Germain Elderflower liqueur
50ml apple vinegar
250ml coconut water
Challenge #2: The Stories We Share
Presentation: Behind the iconic Copper bar at Hacienda PATRÓNs ‘La Casona’ wing
Take out: Delving into Mexican culture
The next day it was over to the fabulous Copper Bar located in La Casona at the Hacienda PATRÓN. Here, as the title suggests, the focus was on storytelling, in particular stories celebrating the ‘esencia’ of Mexico – in other words the authentic truth of the country and its people. From its artists and folklore to its music and films, all of these and more were brought to life by our clever and creative bartenders in an original PATRÓN tequila cocktail.
With advance warning of the challenge and a more familiar set up in which to present (i.e. behind the bar), they took immense pride in telling their stories and the drinks they inspired. Everything from Mayan tattoos, to Mexican chefs and artists was referenced in the eight-minute presentations and all styles of drinks were cogitated, deliberated and digested by judges Ivy Mix, LP O’Brien and Harrison Kenney.
Challenge winner: Alex Boon, Australia
Cocktail: Fire of Love
45ml PATRÓN Silver Tequila
15ml Amontillado Sherry
20ml Thomas Semillion Verjuice
50ml clarified black cherry juice
20ml lacto fermented black cherry syrup
30ml pasilla & jalapeno chilli steeped milk
Garnish: Edible chocolate/cherry gel cherry
Glassware: Volcano Mountain Glass
Method: Carbonated using force carbonation and poured from decanter into chilled glass.
Challenge #3: Mi Mesa Es Tu Mesa
Presentation: At the table
Take out: Embracing the art of hospitality and delivering a memorable experience for the guests
The final challenge saw yet another format: two dining tables placed in the centre of the Copper Bar. LP O’Brien, Giulia Cuccurrullo, Ivy Mix and Haba Flores presided over table one, while table two was taken up by Harrison Kenney, Ana Martorell, Tara Fougner and we’re happy to say, we were there too. Not your average set up admittedly, but this, another new strand to the program, wasn’t your average challenge.
Here the bartenders had to design a memorable table side hospitality experience, featuring a neat PATRÓN Tequila serve paired alongside a super tasty non-alcoholic creation that brought out the best in both nose and flavour of the neat PATRÓN core variant chosen. Boy, did this one rock their boats. We were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of exciting tablescapes and complimentary liquid delights, ranging from a Swedish Midsommer celebration to a stroll through a foggy Loch in Scotland.
Challenge winner: Max Macauley, United Kingdom
Cocktail: Cranachan, paired with PATRÓN Añejo Tequila
80ml fresh raspberry juice
60ml honeybush tea
20ml Scots Pine Oleo
10ml lapsang glycerite
8ml raspberry vinegar
0.3g lactic acid solution
1.5ml salt solution
75ml Almost Burnt Oat Cream
Garnish: Honey tuille with raspberry dust and a campfire spritz
Glassware: Quaich (a traditional Scottish drinking vessel)
After 45 presentations spread over three days (plus a bonus Speed Rack challenge – just for fun and to raise awareness and money for charities in Mexico), rounded up with an outstanding celebration dinner by the wonderfully energetic Chef Ana Martorell, it was time for the scores to be totalled up and the PATRÓN Perfectionists 2023 winners to be announced. And while you’ve probably seen the results all over social media, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth saying again. Give it up for the challenge winners, and the amazing Mor Koral, founder of Salt & Spirit company in Tel Aviv for taking the top overall spot.
“For me PATRÓN Perfectionists has been a journey that started in 2017, when I first took part in the program in Tel Aviv. Since then, I’ve been dreaming of making it to the global final at Hacienda PATRÓN, in Mexico. I am so incredibly excited to have been able to join this amazing group of people and celebrate my culture, rituals and ingredients alongside PATRÓN Tequila in its very home. Thank you everyone for embracing the stories and creations, I’ve shared with you, from my fellow bartenders to the judges and the PATRÓN team. I cannot wait to contribute to some inspiring projects with the PATRÓN Familia back home in Israel and around the world with the global bartending community!”
For more from Mor, tune in to the exclusive PATRÓN Perfectionists 2023 podcast episode, on April 20.
Mor, Mor, Mor – The PATRÓN Perfectionists 2023 global winner’s drinks
From left to right:
Field to Flavour – A guava horchata based PATRÓN Reposado highball, made with a home-made cordial of guava, honey, rice syrup, lime juice, sherry, cinnamon, and ginger.
The Stories We Share – A cocktail called El Mundo Magico, inspired by late surrealist and Mexico-resident artist Leonora Carrington, with PATRÓN Reposado, atole de elote, Mexican falernum and lime.
Mi Mesa Es Tu Mesa – Mor put in place a collective ritual around a Mazet style dinner. Rotating around the table at the rhythm of music, judges participated in setting up the food feast with typical Israeli ingredients cooked by Mor. A tribute to togetherness and conviviality, Mor’s service featured a neat serve of PATRÓN Silver accompanied by her non-alcoholic creation Frankincense & More: clarified ‘labneh’ cheese water, holy honey syrup, lemon juice and water.
And let’s hear it for the full super star line-up who all did themselves and their respective countries extremely proud. Give them a follow and keep up with their journeys:
- Jayde Henderson, Sweden @jaydehendo
- Gabriel Pons, France @gabrielpons_lisavi
- Denys Cherkasov, Spain & Portugal @denis_chequebarman
- Telmo Pacheco, Germany, Austria & Switzerland @telmo.noidea
- Andrea Benvegna, Italy @mr.welcome
- Kaleb Berry, UAE @kalebbarryy
- Sabrina Traubner, South Africa @sabrinatraubner
- Mor Koral, Israel @morko.koral
- Lola Lau, Greater China @lolasaysgo
- Alex Boon, Australia @doonbocksaint_
- Adam Alvarado, Mexico @adamabam123
- Max Macauley, UK @maxmacauley
- Logan Demmy, USA @pour_the_oil
- Dash Tume, Canada @dasht______
- Choni Song, Wild Card winner (China) @choni_song
From left to right:
Tara Fougner, co-founder and CEO of Thirsty Media, award-winning journalist, community leader and content creator from the Bar World Top 100 Most Influential list, Miami.
- Haba Flores, beverage consultant previously at El Gallo Cantinero, Salon Candela and Matilde Mi Amor, Guadalajara
- Ivy Mix, co-owner of Leyenda bar & Fiasco! wine & spirits shop, co-founder of Speed Rack, and author of Spirits of Latin America New York.
- LP O’Brien, award-winning mixologist, winner of Netflix’s Drink Masters, CEO and founder LP Drinks and Focus on Health, Washington DC
- Ana Martorell, educator, chef and founder of restaurants Aida and OXA Cocina única, Mexico City.
- Giulia Cuccurullo, 2020 PATRÓN Perfectionists Global Winner and Head Bartender of Artesian, London
- Sandrae Lawrence, The Cocktail Lovers
- Harrison Kenney, 2022 PATRÓN Perfectionists Global Winner and GM of Bar Planet, Sydney.