A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Spanish bartender Adriana Soley of Le Cabrera in Madrid prevailed from a field of seven competitors – all national champions – with her trinity of Gin Mare-based cocktails.
At the Villa Mare Ibiza, bartenders were asked to produce versions of a Gin & Tonic and 'Med Martini', followed by a ‘Nostrum Cocktail’ – a drink that represented the brand’s marketing values of “Mediterranean lifestyle, gastronomy, climate and escape”.
The finalists were drawn from the super-premium gin brand's major markets of Spain, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Holland and Australia.
A judging panel of eight bar professionals and drinks writers was assembled for the final.
It included Andrea Montague, bar manager of Callooh Callay in London; Heathclifff Motorga, bar manager of Cavalli Club in Dubai; Steffen Hubert, journalist at Mixology magazine; Jorge Balbontin, global brand ambassador of Gin Mare; Martina Breznannova, bartender at Nightjar in London; Becky Paskin, deputy editor of The Spirits Business and Hamish Smith, news and website editor of Drinks International.
Soley accrued the most points during the competition and by its conclusion at the Nassau Beach Club, where contestants served their G&Ts to a throng of holidaymakers, judges were unanimous in their decision to name her champion and award the winner’s cheque of €4,500.
The Spaniard finished ahead of second placed Perryn Collier of The Laneway in Brisbane, who took home a prize of €2,000, and Dee Ann Quinones of London bar 69 Colebrooke Row, whose third place finish earned €1,000.
All three will become European brand ambassadors for Gin Mare.
After the competition, Hubert told Drinks International: “It was a really good standard of drinks today. The bartenders used great ingredients from around the Mediterranean– Jorge [Camilo] from Portugal turned up with samphire for his G&T.
“If you know the basics you can elaborate from there. Adriana [Soley] knew the basics. She produced drinks that were simple and effective twists on classics.”
Soley’s winning cocktails were as follows:
G&T: Gin Mare, 1724 tonic water, rosemary and orange peel smoke.
Med Martini: Gin Mare, lime cordial, elderflower liqueur, orange blossom water, cranberry bitters, Eivissa flower (garnish).
Mare Nostrum Cocktail ‘Tramuntana’: Gin Mare, Campari, homemade sour mix, pine tree and sea salt infused water, pine cones (garnish).