Last week near Cognac, France I helped judge the first international Grey Goose 10 cocktail competition. My co-judges were Dimi Lezinska, Global Brand Ambassador for Grey Goose, and Francois Thibault, the Maitre de Chai (basically, the dude in charge of production) of the brand.
This year the ten bartenders from around the globe were hand-picked by their local brand teams. Many of them have worked with Bacardi in some capacity in the past. Next year, I believe the plans is to hold regional cocktail competitions to choose the 10.
The competition took place poolside at the Logis du Fresne, an ancient walled property that the brand purchased recently. It was kinda nice. The drinks made in this competition were generally awesome, and got better with each subsequent round.
In the first round, bartenders were supposed to make drinks inspired by their own countries. Diego Diaz from Puerto Rico used soursop (guanabana) juice in his drink; Felipe Silva of Mexico used guava jam in his; Marcelo Serrano from Brazil used both cupuacu syrup and jambu (sp) foam; Emilio Tiburcio from the US used caramelized apples suspended above a dry-ice bubbling drink; Joseph Biolatto from France used creme de cassis in a drink inspired by lovemaking (how very French).
Here's the cocktail by Joseph Biolatto:
Five bartenders went on to the second round, in which they were supposed to make drinks inspired by a classic French cocktail, with French ingredients.Jay Jones from Canada made a cocktail with Grey Goose L'Orange, Noilly Prat vermouth, Amer Picon, and Benedictine.
Yao Lu from China (and formerly of Anvil in Houston) made a drink with Grey Goose original, Lillet blanc, Yellow Chartreuse, absinthe, and a lemon twist.
Moshe Budnik of Israel made a cocktail inspired by the French 75 with Grey Goose original, lime, rosewater, and a cucumber foam.
Nitin Tewari of India made his drink with Grey Goose L'Orange, lavender syrup, cranberry juice, and Angostura bitters.
Richard Woods of the UK (London) made a drink with Grey Goose La Poire, Chambord, Benedictine, Chartreuse, and pineapple that was a sophisticated twist on the French Martini.
Here's the cocktail from Yao Lu:
For Round Three, the three finalists had to make drinks inspired by the previous days of the trip. Jay Jones from the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver made a drink he called The Protagonist with Grey Goose original, pineau des charantes, Bordeaux wine, and dry curacao, with a mist of ginger and orange blossom.
Yao Lu of The Alchemist in Shanghai made one called Against the Current with grey Goose original, red chili peppers, Campari, a cherry and prune liqueur, and Angostura bitters.
Richard Woods of The Upstairs Bar at Sushi Samba in London made a "Borrower's Cocktail" with Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Suze, Noilly Prat Ambre, and cardamom-coriander bitters. One day earlier all the bartenders were given a mini barrel to make barrel-aged cocktails when they returned home, but Woods aged this cocktail in the hopes that he'd make it this far in the competition.
He did, and the drink was delicious, so Richard Woods was the winner of the first annual Grey Goose 10 cocktail competition. Well done!