The Beefeater Global Bartender Competition (now the fourth biggest cocktail competition in the world, we’re told) brought finalists from 30 separate countries together in London this week for 2014’s grand final.
Last time around Jason Williams from Sydney’s The Rook took the crown with the brilliantly named ‘Werewolves of London’*, a drink that used our Frankincense Bitters! (You can now find the new and improved version of these Frankincense Bitters as part of the Bitter Bastards range.) This year, after three days of intense judging, we can reveal that the Global Champion is Brandon Phillips from The Duck Inn in Chicago. Congratulations Brandon!
Beefeater Global Champion Brandon Phillips with Master Distiller Desmond Payne
Having overcome the competition to become National Champion in the USA, Brandon then triumphed as the overall winner across a series of challenges in the Global Final. The theme for this year’s competition was “London Inspires You. You Inspire London”, with each bartender having created their own London inspired cocktail using either Beefeater Dry or Beefeater 24. Firstly, their cocktails were judged by a stellar panel of cocktail maestro Ryan ‘Mr Lyan‘ Chetiyawardana, top spirits writer Dave Broom and Beefeater Master Distiller Desmond Payne. When the score cards were all totted up, there was a tie between Norway’s Truls Thomsen from the Newsman Bar and Roberto Rossi from Cookies Kitchen & Bar in Italy.
Truls Thomsen & Roberto Rossi received the highest marks for their London inspired creations, really nailing the theme.
Truls Thomsen’s ‘Mr. Paddington’
- 45ml Beefeater 24
- 20ml sencha and jasmine tea infused Barsol Pisco
- 10ml honey syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
- 10 drops Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate
- Orange twist, toast with marmalade and a jasmine tea flower (Garnish)
Roberto Rossi’s excellent ‘Above The Clouds’
- 50ml Beefeater 24
- 20ml fresh grapefruit juice
- 3 barspoons homemade orange and sencha tea marmalade
- 3 dashes Dr Adam’s Spanish Bitters
- Velvet of IPA beer (IPA beer with half a barspoon of sucrose ester)
- Sencha tea leaves (Garnish)
Another high scoring element was a food pairing round where the 30 finalists were taken through their paces by another top drawer panel of judges, this time Simon Difford, Mondrian’s Executive Chef Luke Rayment (and formerly Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s) and Sandrae Lawrence off of The Cocktail Lovers. Coming up with a new cocktail in just 20 mins to pair perfectly with a meal only revealed to you on the day is certainly no easy feat, but the man who received the highest marks, impressing Luke with his ability to create something that paired on a balanced and equal footing with the food he’d produced, was Italy’s Roberto Rossi!
With the marks still a secret (and with Roberto obviously doing rather well, but others not far behind), the 8 top scoring finalists were last night invited to serve their Beefeater cocktail to an assorted crowd of bartenders and drinks writers (including yours truly), who had the opportunity to vote for their favourite. Along with the cocktails featured in this blog, I’d like to mention Artem Averin from Mercedes Bar in Russia’s perfectly judged ‘Alchemy’ (using The King’s Ginger, Becherovka and Sparkling Wine). Tomas Melzer from the Czech Republic and Santiago Ortiz Jacome from Spain also produced tremendous cocktails, the standard was unsurprisingly very high.
The Champ at work.
As we know all too well on this blog though, “There can be only one“, and once all the scores were in it was Brandon Phillips who became Global Champ!
Brandon Phillips’s ‘The Hackney Handshake’
- 60ml Beefeater 24
- 15ml Lustau Manzanilla Sherry
- 25ml fresh lemon juice
- 30ml Movie Night Syrup (made with Movie Night Tea from David’s Tea)
- Egg white soda
- Juniper dusted popcorn (Garnish)
‘The Hackney Handshake’
As well as the prestige of winning such a big competition, Brandon will now receive mentoring from the Beefeater Global Brand Ambassador Programme and be given the opportunity to attend two of the greatest bartender events in the world out of Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the Tokyo Bar Show, the Moscow Cocktail Show, Toronto Cocktail Week, the Berlin Bar Convent, and that’s not all! Sydney Bar Show, London Cocktail Week, Tales of the Cocktail on Tour… That’s all. Ahem, anyway, two of those.
Right, I’m off to get the recipe for that juniper dusted popcorn (bloody awesome stuff).
*No, it wasn’t a “Pina Colada at Trader Vic’s”, although the bitters used may been made by a “hairy handed gent, who ran amok in Kent”… *ducks*