A deep-fried Mars bar garnish, an American sitcom, Sherlock Holmes inspired ingredients and honey from London bees. It’s London Central, the third stop on the Chivas Masters UK journey.
When: 29 March.
Where: Punch Room Edition, London.
Who (competitors): Giovanni Bruno, Blue Bar at The Berkeley; Marcello D’Andrea, Chiltern Firehouse; Martin Hughes, Rocket Bishopsgate; Craig Petrie, Dry Martini; Benji Purslow, Victory Mansion; Jimmy Rhodes, Perception Hospitality, and Rhys Wilson, Happiness Forgets.
Who (judges): Josh Reynolds, Chivas Masters Global Winner 2015, Phil Huckle, Chivas Brand Ambassador and The Cocktail Lovers.
The London Central Journey
The Punch Room at the London Edition is one of our very favourite London bars. It’s laid back and extremely relaxing. But not if you happened to be one of the seven bartenders competing for a coveted place in the Chivas Masters UK Final.
As in all the heats the Chivas Master challenges bartenders to come up with three serves: The Classic Way, The Local Way and The Shanghai Way. Over five hours we were introduced to a plethora of interpretations.
Marcello from the Chiltern Firehouse kicked things off and along with an engaging presentation he shared The London Way which included Cocchi Americano and Chartreuse amongst its ingredients, but it was the combined aromas of a dusting of Earl Grey tea powder on the outside of the glass with the Chivas 12 which was particularly enticing. Martin Hughes from Rocket Bishopsgate told us he enjoyed bringing a little humour to his cocktails, something that was particularly evident with his drink for The Classic Way. Building on a Rob Roy he brought in some strong contemporary Scottish elements, a reconditioned Irn-Bru can as a serving vessel along with a deep-fried Mars bar as garnish. Not to be outdone on the garnish front, Jimmy Rhodes from Perception Hospitality topped his drink, Badger’s Den, with a male rhino beetle – although apparently edible none of the judges found themselves to be that peckish… There were more striking visuals from Giovanni of the Blue Bar at The Berkeley. Accompanying his drink the Oriental Pearl was a dish of prawn crackers which quite literally floated beside the drink.
Craig from Dry Martini told the most detailed story on the day, taking the proximity of his bar to Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes, as inspiration for The Local Way. Recounting one of the master detective’s stories he likened the protagonists to ingredients, such as Becherovka for the King Of Bohemia, to create his drink A Scandal In Bohemia. Benji from Victory Mansion showcased honey produced by London bees for his drink London Beehold. More than just a gimmick the honey was key in a beautifully blended mix of Chivas 12, Kamm & Sons and wheat beer.
There were a lot of greats drinks throughout the day but for all three of his creations it was Rhys from Happiness Forgets who claimed a place in the final. Along with an easy presentation style he presented three creative and extremely well balanced drinks. Kicking off with a cocktail inspired by the American television sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia he twisted a Morning Glory Fizz with the introduction of Amaro Averna, honey and apricot brandy alongside the Chivas 12 for an exceptionally well balanced drink, naming it with a quote from the TV show “It’s a wild card bitches”, shortened simply to ‘Wild Card’.
The Local Way saw Rhys celebrating fellow neighbourhood bar White Lyan by using one of their unique ingredients, Spring Break White ‘wine’, to delicious effect alongside Luli fortified wine and the Chivas 12 in an elegant aperitif style drink, The Happy Lyan. Finally came The Key And Tea inspired by the time Rhys had spent in Jakarta with drinks legend Dre Masso. Sensitively emphasising the complexity of the Chivas 12 with the introduction of China White Snow Bud tea and lemon vinegar, along with a little sparkling sake to create something that was as refreshing as it was rich in flavour.
Wise words: the judges
“So the third heat of the Chivas Masters got off to a great start, some innovative twists on classics such as the Rob Roy but I wanted to see real research as the bartenders can choose any classic cocktail from the New York era. There were some delightful stories to attach the ingredients to the history and heritage of the Chivas Brothers. For me, competing last year I was wanting to see someone with great presentation skills and the ability to create delicious drinks. Rhys was that guy. A stunning twist on one of my favourite classics, The Morning Glory Fizz was next level. Good luck in the next round.” Josh Reynolds, Chivas Masters Global Winner 2015.
“Eclectic and eccentric would be the two words I’d use to sum up this heat. Again I was impressed with the variety of ingredients used (many homemade). It’s a really positive sign of how bartenders are inspiring each other to even greater heights. A very well done to Rhys from Happiness Forgets who edged it from some very tough competition. The Chivas Masters UK Final is shaping up well!” Phil Huckle, Chivas Brand Ambassador.
“For us it was another great demonstration of individual skills and imagination, along with a real understanding of how to work with the Chivas 12. Each of Rhys’ drinks were complex and satisfying, but presented together as a group they were simply outstanding.” The Cocktail Lovers.
Wise words: the winner
“I wanted to dedicate some time to one comp this year and Chivas Masters was the most inviting, with a challenging format and a brand I really enjoy. The heat certainly lived up to the hype with a group of talented and diverse bartenders giving out an incredible array of serves. I can’t wait to tackle the UK final, it should be a blast.” Rhys Wilson, Chivas Masters London Central heat winner.
The Chivas Masters journey
The Chivas Master heats run throughout March and April, leading up to the final in May.
Edinburgh, 18 April.
Rhys’ winning drinks
The Classic Way
25ml Chivas 12
20ml lemon juice
10ml apricot brandy
6 dashes absinthe
20ml egg white
Shake, dry shake, pour into a tall glass and top with soda.
The Local Way
The Happy Lyan
40ml Chivas 12
30ml White Lyan Spring Break white ‘wine’
10ml Luli fortified wine
2.5ml sugar syrup
Stirred, served up with lemon twist garnish.
The Shanghai Way
The Key and Tea
50ml Chivas 12
30ml China White Snow Bud tea
12.5ml sugar syrup
3 dashes lemon vinegar
Build and top up with sparkling sake, garnish with a lemon wedge garnish.
Chiltern Firehouse chilternfirehouse.com
Rocket Bishopsgate rocketrestaurants.co.uk
Blue Bar at The Berkeley the-berkeley.co.uk
Dry Martini drymartiniorg.com
Happiness Forgets happinessforgets.com
Victory Mansion victorymansion.co.uk