Two Bartenders, One Cocktail!

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The Skinos Mediterranean Cocktails Challenge 2016 (MCC) has officially begun! For the 6th year running MCC, the biggest international bartenders’ competition with a Mediterranean theme is back and this year it is being hosted and organised by Skinos Mastiha Spirit, the leading Greek/Mediterranean spirit.

The concept of this year’s competition is “Team Challenge”, where bartenders are invited to participate in teams of two. Bartenders from all over the world, including Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and the UK are to find a fellow teammate and create a unique Mediterranean recipe, inspired by the ingredients, flavours and aromas of the region!

Each team is asked to submit their recipe (www.myskinos.com/mcc), which will be presented to the MCC jury during the semi-finals in each region. The winners of the semi-finals, from each region will then travel to Athens for the final. The winning team of the Mediterranean Cocktails Challenge 2016 will then win a trip to Berlin and the BCB (Bar Convent Berlin) to present their winning Skinos cocktail. The judging panel consists of two of the best known Greek bartenders: Dimitris Kiakos, owner of the legendary The Gin Joint and Alexander Sourmpatis, award winning bartender and bar manager of Spinte Bar in Thessaloniki.

Participation in the Mediterranean Cocktails Challenge is for teams of 2 bartenders only. To register, please submit your recipe online by visiting www.myskinos.com/mcc. Deadline for entries is the 31st May 2016.

Knightsbridge Soho City Shoreditch |

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The results are in…

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Following the Bank Holiday we spent Wednesday, 4th May, in Liverpool for the Bobby’s Collins Cocktail Competition final. Hidden down a back street, in a fabulous basement bar was where all the action took place – Jenny’s Bar.

So just to re-cap – in the run-up to the final we selected 12 lucky finalists from a long list of entries who would battle it out on the day to win a trip to the Bobby’s Gin Distillery in the Netherlands.

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The competition kick started at 2 o’clock with each of our finalists making and presenting their cocktail to our panel of esteemed judges, who were looking for an original interpretation of the classic, Tom Collins Cocktail, the only rule being the use of 35ml of Bobby’s Schiedam Dry Gin. Cocktails were judged on taste, presentation and originality. Everyone brought their A game and the competition was on!

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Once each contestant had presented their cocktails to the judges it was decision time. Who would be the one to wow us all with their Tom Collins? After a lot of back and forth the judges agreed and all that was left to do was to announce who’d won.

So without further ado, the winner of the 2016 Bobby’s Collins Cocktail Competition was Will Meredith from The Black Cat Cocktail Bar at El Gato Negro, Manchester. He stole the show with his 15 Hour Collins Cocktail, made with Bobby’s Gin (of course), cubeb pepper infused lemon juice, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Jerry Thomas Bitters and homemade orange and lemongrass soda. Spot on!

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I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the competition and also to our 4 judges, job well done. Special thanks also goes to Jenny’s Bar for letting us take over your bar and for being such brilliant hosts. What a fantastic day!

Knightsbridge Soho City Shoreditch |

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It’s Competition Time!

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It’s cocktail competition time! Join us on Wednesday, 4th May at Jenny’s Bar in Liverpool for an afternoon watching some of the most skilled bartenders, from Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Halifax & Nottingham, shake it out in front of a panel of judges to be crowned champion of this year’s Collins Cocktail Competition.

The deadline for entries was the 20th April and since then we’ve narrowed it down to 12 lucky finalists who will be mixing up on the day. Our finalists include:

Ehren Khoo-Steel from the Brass Monkey, Nottingham
Jack Daniels from Elixir, Manchester
Thomas White from Maray, Liverpool
Will Meredith from the Black Cat Cocktail Bar, Manchester
Gethin Jones from Cottonopolis, Manchester
James Brown from Lost in Tokyo, Manchester
Lawrence Woodrow-Smith from Pintura Kitchen, Leeds
Alex Morton from Pintura Kitchen, Leeds
Tom Kinley from Jenny’s Bar, Liverpool
James Woolard from 53 Degrees North, Halifax
Chris Edwards from Filter + Fox, Liverpool
David Nagy from Tariff & Dale, Manchester

The competition will kick start at 2pm and the aim of the game, for each of our finalists, is to create their own interpretation of the timeless Tom Collins (a simple mix of gin, lemon and sugar syrup, shaken over ice). The only rule that applies is the use of 35ml of Bobby’s Schiedam Dry Gin.

What we’re looking for is an original interpretation of the classic that really showcases Bobby’s Gin in all in its glory. Cocktails will be judged on taste as well as presentation and originality. The winner will be announced on the day.

If you can’t join us on the day, keep up to date with all the action by following us on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook@AmathusDrinks.

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About Bobby’s Gin

Jacobus Alfons, or Bobby to his family and friends, was born in Indonesia but migrated to the Netherlands in 1950. Bobby loved Dutch Genever, but missed the taste of home, so started infusing it with Indonesian spices and herbs, unknowingly creating his own gin and laying down the foundation for Bobby’s Gin.

In 2012 Bobby’s grandson Sebastiaan discovered an old bottle of the gin in his mother’s house. Inspired by his grandfather’s story he travelled to Schiedam, the city where Gin originated and started work on creating a unique gin, blending the tradition of Schiedam Genever with the best Indonesian botanicals and spices. After almost two years of distilling, developing and refining, Bobby’s Gin Schiedam Dry Gin was born.

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Contratto Masterclass and Cocktail Competition

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On Monday, 9th November, we spent the afternoon at Evans and Peel to host a Contratto masterclass and cocktail competition. If that wasn’t exciting enough, we were lucky to be joined by Anja Cramer, owner, with husband Giorgio, of Contratto distillery.

Contratto was founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto. The winery is known as the oldest producer of sparkling wine in Italy, in fact, the Metodo Classico 1919 Contratto Extra Brut was the first vintage sparkling wine ever made in the country.

 In 150 years of wine making, Contratto went from producing sparkling Moscato and red wine to still wines, vermouth, tonics and syrups. The winery is now owned by La Spinetta (a family run business) who acquired it in 2011. Since then they have reintroduced Contratto to the world and continued to preserve and uphold its 140-year-old tradition and top quality.


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Evans and Peel isn’t like most bars you’ll find in London. It’s an underground, hidden cocktail bar located near Earl’s Court tube station.  I don’t know whether you’ve been before, but it’s not the easiest place to find. After 10 minutes walking up and down the same street looking for a big sign saying ‘Evans and Peel’, which didn’t exist, I finally had to ask someone to point me in the right direction.

I won’t spoil it for you, but this place is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t done so already! All I can say is, expect the unexpected!


So the masterclass kick started at 2 o’clock and on tasting were 3 vermouths, Bianco, Rosso and Americano Rosso, a bitter and an aperitif. The flavours were incredible, each having their own individual taste and uniqueness.

Just a few tasting notes for you, so you can see how different the ingredients are for each of the Contratto products.

Up first was the  Contratto Vermouth Bianco, which had flavours of coriander seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, bitter orange peel, sage, sweet orange peel, liquorice roots and many more….the list is endless!

Next we tried the Contratto Americano Rosso Vermouth, which had flavours of ginger, mint leaves, hibiscus and hawthorn flower, nettle leaves and bitter and sweet orange peel.

The final vermouth we tasted was the Contratto Rosso, which had flavours of hawthorn flowers, coriander seeds, marjoram leaves, chamomile leaves, aloe juice, cinnamon, mint leaves and ginger roots.

After the vermouth’s, it was on to the Contratto Bitter and Aperitif.

The original recipe for Contratto Bitter dates back to 1933 and is based on a mixture of delicately infused, premium natural herbs, spices, roots and seeds combined with Italian Brandy. Flavours include cardamon, enula bell, swertia, nettle and bitter and sweet orange peel.

Last but not least was the Contratto Aperitif, it had flavours of tangerine peel, juniper berries, rhubarb, ginger and wormwood. This complex yet well-balanced boutique aperitif is capable of turning any aperitif based cocktail into a wonderful experience.

I’d recommend that if you haven’t sampled these products before, you definitely need to now…. delicious!

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Once the masterclass had finished there was just enough time for a quick break before the cocktail competition started at 3.30pm.

So, similar to other cocktail competitions we’ve hosted, each bartender had to come up with cocktails on the spot. They could enter as many drinks as they liked and were judged purely on taste alone – not presentation. To make it a bit different this time round, as well as having the use of all the Contratto products, we selected a range of additional spirits the bartenders were allowed to use. These included  a bottle of Rives Special Gin, Rhum Clément Blanc, Château de Laubade Armagnac, 1615 Acholado Pisco and Pierde Almas Mezcal.

The ones to impress and judging the competition were Nick Bell (Amathus Retail Manager), Anja Cramer (owner of Contratto distillery) and Simon Epale (Bar member at Evans and Peel). The winning prize was a trip to Italy, home of Contratto, and all runners up received a bottle from the Contratto collection. Oh and a Contratto apron too!!

 

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The competition was extremely high making it a very tough decision for our 3 judges. After a lot of backwards and forwards and re-tasting the cocktails, a decision was made. Drum roll, please…

In third place was Csaba Toth from Oblix Restuarant. Congratulations Csaba!

In second place was Giovanni Graiadei from The Blind Pig at Social Eating House. Congratulations Giovanni!

and in, first place and the lucky winner of the trip to Italy was…….

Filippo Brunelli from Ceviche in Soho. He stole the show with his signature cocktail made up of Contratto Fernet, 1615 Pisco Acholado, lime juice, ginger ale and Angostura Bitters. 

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I’d just like to say a big thank you to Anja Cramer for hosting the Contratto masterclass and judging the cocktail competition. Thank you to our 2 other judges, Nick and Simon, well done boys and finally a huge thank you to Evans and Peel for letting us host the event at your amazing bar.

For more information on upcoming events, please visit our blog.

Knightsbridge Soho City Shoreditch |

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Canary Wharf show their Flair in Centinela Cocktail Heat

Four Season's Canapes
Four Season’s Canapes

Thursday 4th July saw the Canary Wharf heat of the Centinela Cocktail competition that will soon be coming to its peak with our finals! Bartenders across the nation have been sending in their recipes and battling it out to be one of the lucky 3 regional winners and travel to Arrandas in Mexico to see the distillery! But they have some work to do to get there. All the heats have seen top quality cocktails, and the Four Seasons Hotel on Canary Wharf was certainly no exception.

As we were assembling at a lovely side bar in the stunning hotel, we were welcomed with delicious smoked salmon appetisers and a fruity Bellini, and their hospitality didn’t end there. I will take this moment to thank the team for continuing to bring out mouth-watering appetisers throughout the competition and making sure the judges had lined their stomachs before tasting the cocktails.

Jolita's Union Juan
Jolita’s Union Juan

This heat had five participants, representing the Four Seasons, Parlour Bar, Rocket, Roka and The Pearson Room. First up was Xiandy from the Four Seasons who was kindly stepping in to make her colleague Jolita’s cocktail as sadly she was ill on the day. Jumping straight in, Xiandy measured out the tequila and a lime mixture and gave it a good shake. After pouring this into martini glasses she delicately poured grenadine and curacao blue into the glasses so they layered up on the bottom… making the Union Juan cocktail!

Next up was Radoslaf from the Parlour Bar making a Mexican Punch.. and punchy this number was! Muddling two jalopeno peppers, avocado, and a Mexican drink called Tamarind. Adding some lime juice for liquid he shook it up and served it rocks glasses with a garnish that showed all the flavours. And there was certainly a lovely kick to the drink!

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Paolo’s Okinawa Sunshine

Third was Paolo from Roka’s Okinawa Sunshine – a delicious medley of ginger, agave syrup, saki wine, and of course the Centinela tequila. Added on top was a unique topping with mustard seeds. Presented in martini glasses, it oozed with style and tasted sublime!

Next was Simone from Rocket who carried on the theme of yellow sunshine with his cocktail, Simone’s Summery. Based on combining the Centinela tequila with delicious fresh pineapple and bitters he transformed the clear tequila into a great cocktail, with amazing aromas coming from the pineapple leaf garnish.

Mario's Jasmine Room
Mario’s Jasmine Room

Last up was Mario from the Pearson Room. Adding to the delicious Centinela, he combined the flavours of Cartron Framboise de Bourgogne and a jasmine tea homemade creation. After a firm shake he strained the liquid into sherry glasses with lovely orange peel garnishes inside. But he didn’t finish there… Mario added fire to the mix by a very skilful lighting of orange peel to bring out more citrus flavours into the drink! The result, a Jasmine Room.

With such a varied array of cocktails and so many techniques used to express the tequila, it was a tough feat for us judges to compare and contrast. All the cocktails were simply delicious and I could certainly see them all being popular if served up in a bar… but alas, a winner there must be. It gave us great pleasure to announce, the winner of the Four Season’s Canary Wharf heat was the lovely Mario from the Pearson Room! Congratulations Mario and we look forward to seeing your pyrotechnics in the London final!

By Clare Corlett
Amathus Drinks

Cabrito/ Centinela Cocktail Competition 2013: The Heats are really getting Fiery!

We are well into our exciting Centinela Cocktail competition, with the London final taking place at the end of July, and the competition is heating up! We have 3 regional finals in total and the winners from each final will then get to go to Arrandas in Mexico, the home of Casa Centinela & Cabrito, and battle it out to be the ultimate winner for 2013!
Our London finalists are being chosen from internal heats within bars around and so far we have some great people in the final:

Dominik from Evans and Peel with “The Shifting Punch”
Ruairidh & Daniel from Love Jericho in Oxford, with “Pepes Tepache” & “$500 Dollar Fix” respectively
Irene from Beach Blanket Babylon with “Cherry Lady Boy”
Alessio from Drink Shop & Do with “Tiempo Fuera”
Shane from Mokoko with “Papa Don’t Beet Me”
Joe from Hidden Rooms with “Aguamiel”
Csongi from Montgomery Place/Market Place with “El Cordial”

Cabrito Tequila
Cabrito Tequila

Congratulations to all the finalists so far! And to add to this list of amazing talent we have last night’s winner from Made in Camden… And what a fight it was! As my first time up judging a heat for this competition, I got a real insight into the level of thought and creativity that all the bartenders are putting into their creations. With real attention to the taste profile and history of Cabrito (the range used in this heat), the results were delicious and taste-bud-tingling treats for all us judges.

First up was Louis with a real concentration on the nutty notes of Cabrito blanco – using a dry amontillado sherry in the cocktail to really draw out these flavours. Along with this he introduced a little French character (from his home country) into the cocktail, using yellow Chartreuse. Adding his own honey recipe for sweetness and a dash of bitters, he stirred to temper the drink and poured into a Sherry glass.

Next was Teresa, who added a real kick to the competition and introduced flavours from the home of tequila itself by adding chillies to the cocktail! Based on Cabrito blanco – in order to get a pure agave flavour without oak – she added the chillies, simple syrup, Lillet and a splash of fiery bitters. She gave it a quick shake (but not too much!) to get the chilli flavours out and poured into a Coupe glass.

Mexican contender Freddy came next, adding some real fruit to the mix; a watermelon cocktail using fresh watermelon. Freddy wowed us with his history knowledge of Cabrito (the number one tequila in Mexico and one he was very familiar with). Using the blanco, he mashed up the tequila with the watermelon then added Sotol from Mexico (a mezcal-like drink), some orange bitters and fresh lime juice. He gave it a slightly longer shake and poured into a Coupe for a deliciously pink finish.

Last, but of course not least, was Rebecca who brought along her homemade roasted lime, onion and cayenne pepper puree to create a twist on a Bloody Mary. Seasoned with lots of herbs and spices; she was used the reposado and mixed in green tomato juice and some extra chilli sauce. It was served with a shot of spicy tomato juice and was certainly one to blow any cobwebs away!

I hope my brief overview conveyed that it really was a tough one to judge! All were different, had an understanding of

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Teresa

Cabrito, and tasted great… but after much deliberation we had to make a decision. The winner was the one we thought was a drink that really celebrated Cabrito taste at the heart of the cocktail; showed a consideration to the homeland of Mexico; and was balanced, well thought out and left us wanting several more of the same…. Teresa, with her cocktail “Hellquila”. Congratulations on being the next finalist in our Centinela Cocktail Cup!

The next heat is at Thursday 4th July at the Four Seasons in Canary Wharf! It will be at 2.30pm for anyone in the area that wants to pop in and give them a cheer!

Well done to our winners so far and good luck to all upcoming contenders!

 

By Clare Corlett

Amathus Drinks