A month ago I attended the Diageo World Class Global Finals (Facebook group here) in New Delhi India. (Most of my posts on the matter can be found by following the India tag.) But I'm not done talking about it - just getting caught up now.
There were six challenges in the contest and I sat in on two of them. Peter Dorelli judged the Cocktail Theater and Stars challenge, in which bartenders had to create a drink inspired by a woman; and then perform a fancy version of a bottle service serve. Gaz Regan judged the Gentlemen's Drinks & Fancy Tipples challenge, in which bartenders had to create one of each of those style of drinks. It was these two sessions I observed.
I noticed several trends in ingredients among the 32 competing bartenders (and two cocktails each). I found it pretty interesting that despite wide differences in product/ingredient availability in different parts of the world that there would be any patterns at all. Yet there were many commonalities among the cocktails I saw.
Top Flavor Trends at World Class Global Finals 2011
- Chamomile. I saw chamomile tea, chamomile flower garnish, chamomile syrup, and chamomile-infused vermouth. This flower was everywhere at World Class.
- Tea. Chamomile, of course, but also Indian tea, breakfast blend tea, and other flavors. Also, tea service: tea pots, cups, and tea time rituals.
- Infused Vermouth. Again, chamomile-infused vermouth but also cardamon and other flavors.
- Dry Ice. I'm not sure if this is a real trend - that all these bartenders planned to use dry ice in their drinks from the beginning (close to half of bartenders did, but keep in mind I was sitting in the theatrical judging) or if they just decided to use it because it was available in the supply room at World Class.
- Chocolate. Many bartenders used chocolate syrup, liqueur, bitters, or gave the judges a side of solid chocolate (all high-cacao content chocolate; none of the milk chocolate stuff) to accompany their drinks.
- Smoke. Several bartenders used the Polyscience Smoking Gun to smoke cocktails. They smoked the mixing glass, smoked the cocktail glass, and smoked a bell jar to put over the cocktail. Other bartenders burned herbs or wood chips directly. A couple of drinks were made with a rinse of smoky Lagavulin scotch. No mezcal was in sight, but that may very well have been a supply issue.
- Sherry. I'm delighted to see that sherry is a global bartending trend. At World Class they had only oloroso/cream sherry available to use, but I think someone made an approximation of Pedro Ximenez with it as well.
- Yuzu. Not a ton of it was used, but enough to be noticeable.
- Coriander and Cardamon. These spices were muddled, infused into spirits, or toasted fresh into several drinks. I almost want to call it a 'gin spice' trend.
- Coffee. There was a bit of coffee liqueur used, but more often coffee tinctures or grated coffee beans used in and on cocktails.