On a scale of one to ten, do you want to know how much we’re looking forward to the upcoming Graham’s Blend Series Cocktail Competition? Believe us when we say the answer is a resounding 11. Over the top? Just a little but the truth is, we love us some port. Whether like most appreciators, we’re sipping a delicious glass of tawny or ruby as a digestif – with or without a wodge of Stilton, or more recently, enjoying one of the white varietals lengthened with tonic and served as an aperitif, we think it’s one of the tipples that deserves to be given more love.
Particularly in the mixing department. Trust us, as good as it is on its own, port adds backbone and depth to an array of delicious cocktails. From the aforementioned simple but delightfully refreshing white port and tonic (with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint like they do in Portugal), through to more complex concoctions like the Master at Arms, a decidedly decadent cocktail which we first encountered at the Zetter Townhouse in 2011. Featuring dark rum, grenadine and a port reduction, the drink, created by Tony Conigliaro was an early and somewhat surprising encounter with port being used as the star in a contemporary drink. And Graham’s Port are making sure that it won’t be the last by launching its first ever cocktail competition, with a fab selection of prizes up for grabs.*
It’s a very cool move. Few port brands have ventured into the territory and as one of the biggest, and best known, Graham’s is perfectly placed to do so. Especially now that the fifth generation Symington family members have come on board. “My cousins and I saw the need to rejuvenate the brand and engage with a younger customer base,” says Anthony Symington, Senior Brand Manager. And by George have they done it by introducing two specific port blends made specifically with mixing in mind.
- 1st place: 4.5L Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny and an entry in the Grand Finale in Portugal
- 2nd place: 4.5L Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny
- 3rd place: A case of Graham’s Blend Nº12
- 1st place: €1000 cash prize, 6 months supply of Blend Nº5 & Blend Nº12 for bar**
- 2nd place: €500 cash prize, 2x cases of Blend Nº5 & Blend Nº12 for bar
- 3rd place: €200 cash prize, 1x case each of Blend Nº5 & Blend Nº12
**a maximum of 3 x cases of 6 bottles per month
Graham’s Blend Nº5 White
Light and fresh, this deliciously crisp white port is the secret ingredient that your cocktails have been waiting for. Christened number five after the fifth generation Symington family members, it’s already creating quite the stir.
“We use the two most premium white grapes – Malvasia Fina and the aromatic Moscatel,” explains Anthony. “The grapes are grown at a high altitude, then cold fermented, resulting in a half-sweet style of port, with enough sweetness to counterbalance the bitterness in a tonic but not so sweet that it wouldn’t work with any other mixer.”
Personality-wise, think vibrant, ebullient, summery: “Blend Nº5 exudes the poise and glamour of a salsa dancer,” adds John Rogerson, Assistant Brand Manager. “If it were a person, it would definitely make an impression when it walks into a room.”
Graham’s Blend Nº12 Ruby
Graham’s Blend Nº12 is another liquid conversation that challenges traditional ideas of what a ruby port should be. For this second blend, (called number 12 as the grapes are picked at midnight), the luscious grapes are sourced from vineyards at highest altitude to retain freshness. The other noticeable difference is that there’s no oak ageing or discernible tannins, resulting in a bright, floral blend that works like a charm in cocktails.
Personality-wise, this one more mysterious, almost flirty, “It’s not the first thing you think of in a cocktail but once you get to know it, it opens up and reveals its layers and complexity to you,” John explains.
Using either Graham’s Blend Nº5 or Graham’s Blend Nº12 as your base, create an original and delicious port cocktail made with your choice of readily available ingredients. Once you’re happy, submit your (hopefully) winning recipe, together with a photograph of your cocktail to BlendSeriesComp.
Closing date for entries: 18th May 2022.
The six best entries will be chosen to compete in the UK Finals, taking place at Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells, with the overall winner going on to challenge the finalists from France, Germany, Denmark and Belgium at the Symington family estate in the Duoro Valley for the Global Final. “We’re very excited to learn and meet the entrants,” Anthony confirms. “This is the first time that we’ve had a cocktail competition and we’re hoping that it will be start of more to come.”
Rules of Entry
• There is a limit of one (1) entry per person
• Recipes must be expressed in millilitres, with dashes and/or drops being the smallest qualities
• The recipe must be port-based and include as the dominant ingredient either of the following products: Graham’s Blend Nº5 or Graham’s Blend Nº12
• The recipe must contain no other port brands
• The recipe should contain commonly available ingredients. Commonly available ingredients are defines as those ingredients that are frequently available to ‘cocktail bars’ around the world
• It is prohibited to use ingredients that contain tobacco, any type of drug or psychotropic ingredient
• Competitors must specify an original name for their cocktail
Cocktail name – 10 points
Inspiration – 15 points
Replicability – 10 points
Visual presentation – 20 points
Aroma – 15 points
Taste – 30 points