The next stopping off point for The Chivas Masters UK competition was the first of two to be held in London. This one was aimed at the ‘Prestige’ accounts and the setting , in the luxurious surroundings of the newly-opened Cartizze in Mayfair, matched the calibre of the seven competitors, each with their sights were firmly set on a securing a place in the London final on the 3rd June. To get there they first had to impress the judges with four cocktails inspired by Chivas.
Hailing from the very best London bars the bartenders set about showing off their creativity by reinterpreting four Chivas cocktails, from the following eras: The Classic Age, The Post-War Boom, The Disco Years and The Age of Revivalism. The next few hours flew by with a Sean Connery impersonation, imaginative serves in an Ernest Hemingway style Tiki mug, Babycham bottle and crisp packet but best of all, some incredibly crafted cocktails.
When: 15 April
Where: Cartizze, London
Who (Competitors): Nicolo Carraro, Connaught bar; Andreas Cortes, Claridge’s; Lee Hyde, Dabbous; Andy Loudon, Satan’s Whiskers; Ali Reynolds, Hawksmoor; Iacopo Sabatini, Novikov; Andy Shannon, Edition Hotel Punch Room. (Judges): Alistair Burgess, Happiness Forgets; Richard Woods, Cartizze; Nicholas de Soto, Experimental Cocktail Club; The Cocktail Lovers.
Proceedings got under way with Andreas Cortes from the highly esteemed Claridge’s. Amongst his creations were a Papa Doble style drink (Chivas 12, orange curaçao, Cherry Heering, grapefruit juice and pineapple juice) which took the Ernest Hemingway inspiration to the max with the great man making an appearance in the shape of a Tiki mug for The Post-War Boom cocktail (see above). His love of a good visual also caught the eye with Burns Night Fever (Chivas 12, Cointreau, orange juice) for The Disco Years, which was poured from a retro-tastic Babycham bottle.
Andy Shannon plies his trade
at the elegant Edition Hotel Punch Room, so, perhaps unsurprisingly, punch was present in a couple of his serves. In particular Smoke My Punch Up (Chivas 12, lapsang souchong tea, sugar syrup, melon and chilli water) a subtle but deftly balanced blend for The Age of Revivalism.
Andy Loudon from Satan’s Whiskers took his influence from the Highlander movie and ran with it through all four of his drinks, most notably for The Disco Years with The Connery (Chivas 12, passionfruit liqueur and apricot liqueur), serving it with a pretty passable impersonation of the film’s great Scottish star, Sir Sean.
Marking the half way mark was Iacopo Sabatini from Novikov. Iacopo went for simple serves but rounded up his four cocktails with an attractive steel goblet to present his East India Cocktail (Chivas, orange curaçao, Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, orange bitters, Angostura aromatic bitters and raspberry syrup) for The Age of Revivalism.
l – r: Burns Night Fever, East India Cocktail, Captain Scott
Lee Hyde from Dabbous arrived with a large tray of wares and stories of bartenders and their customers. One of these lucky imaginary guests was served a very smooth Chivas Martinez (Chivas 12, Cocchi Torino, maraschino, orange curaçao, Campari and orange bitters), paired nicely with squares of fudge for the The Classic Age. While another was persuaded to try a Hot Buttered Whisky (Chivas 12, Galliano, butter, banana fudge, spices, Angostura aromatic bitters), courtesy of a small stove and a bit of cooking for The Post-War Boom.
Ali Reynolds from Hawksmoor produced four drinks that were sublime taste-wise, including My Brother’s Peach Tea (Earl Grey infused Chivas 12, Cocchi Rose, Crème de Peche, Green Chartreuse) for the The Classic Age, and the Dick Bradsell inspired Coffee ‘n’ Smoke (Chivas 12 infused with coffee beans, Crema de Mezcal and clotted cream ice cream) for The Disco Years. He also devised perhaps the most surprising serve of the day with Whisky, Beer and Crisps for his Age of Revivalism drink. Drawing his inspiration from his favourite things; whisky, beer, crisps and football, Ali’s drink featured discarded crisp packets and empty beer mugs – the former containing the cocktail and the latter chilled ready to receive it.
Rounding things up came Nicolo Carraro from the Connaught who produced consistenly good drinks including a retro Toby jug serve for The Post-War Boom with his Captain Scott (Chivas 12 and homemade ginger syrup).
The winner and the judges reactions
The extremely high standard made for a lot of discussion amongst the four judges and the closeness of the decision was summed up by Nicholas de Soto from Experimental Cocktail Club, “The level of the participants was truly amazing and it was very hard to choose a winner. I really liked the fact that each drink represented a certain period of cocktail history. Lee played on that really well by juggling with different personalities for each period. Ali’s drink were spot on, very creative and his chat was the best of day”.
In fact, it was so close that the decision was made for two competitors to go through to the final, so we’ll look forward to seeing both winner Ali Reynolds from Hawksmoor and runner-up Lee Hyde from Dubous putting in an appearance on the big day in London on the 3rd June.
A word from the winners
“I’m absoutley delighted to have won the London heat of the first ever global Chivas competition. Now I am just looking forward to the UK Final in June and hoping I can make it to New York for the Global Final”, Ali Reynolds, Hawksmoor.
“I feel very lucky that the judges thought the standard was so high, that they decided to put the runner-up through to the final too, and I feel very lucky that that runner-up was me!” Lee Hyde, Dabbous.
Ali’s winning drinks
The Classic Age:
My Brother’s Peach Tea
35ml Earl Grey infused Chivas 12
20ml Cocchi Rose
15ml Crème de Peche
5ml Green Chartreuse
Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a rocks glass with cubed ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Post War Boom
The Fig Dram Theory
60ml Chivas 12
25ml homemade apple cordial
15ml Crème de Figue
2 dashes Pernod Absinthe
10ml lime juice
Topped with Champagne
Swizzle all ingredients over crushed ice in a highball glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with flowers, mint, orange slice and a mini sword.
Coffee ‘n’ Smoke
50ml Chivas 12 infused with coffee beans
10ml Crema de Mezcal
1 scoop Clotted Cream ice cream
Blend all ingredients with two ice cubes and pour into a coupette.
Age of Revivalism
Whisky, Beer and Crisps
70ml Chivas 18
20ml Kernel IPA Syrup
Pinch of smoked sea salt
2 dashes of malt vinegar
Stir all ingredients into a crisp packet, re-seal and serve in a frozen beer mug with rocks glass of ice on the side.
The Classic Age:
40ml Chivas 12
25ml Cocchi Torino
5ml orange curaçao
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with an orange twist.
The Post War Boom:
Hot Buttered Whisky
40ml Chivas 12
3 dashes angostura bitters
Cook and strain, garnish with spices.
The Disco Years:
Frisky on the Beach
40ml Chivas 12
10ml lime juice
25ml orange juice
25ml guava juice
Shake and strain.
The Age of Revivalism
40ml Chivas Regal 18yr
20ml fig leaf infused chocolate absinthe liqueur
15ml Cocchi Barolo Cinnatto
5ml jasmine syrup
1 dash plum bitters
Ingredients have been resting in a barrel for a week and a half, they are then stirred over ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
Ali and Lee will be competing in the Chivas Masters UK Final 3rd June. Next stop for the heats: London. Follow all the action from The Chivas Masters here and via Twitter and Facebook. #ChivasMasters
Edition Hotel edition-hotels.marriot.com
Satan’s Whiskers satanswhiskersbir.tumbir.com