42 Below is at it again

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if the Germans had won in WWII and the Emerald Isles had effective policing, beer you can see through and German accented teaching thrust upon them?

Wonder no more, as James Sugarfoot Goggin has perfected the Irish German accent and has taken it out for a spin in this call to arms for New Zealand bartenders to join the Cocktail World Cup and give the country more than just a gold plated rugby trophy to crow about.



Carnival Spectacularrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

It’s that time again, 42BELOW is gearing up around the world to fly bartenders from the four corners of this blue green globe to compete in the Cocktail world Cup and become totally and utterly indoctrinated by the New Zealand experience and it’s most famous no0n agricultural export, 42BELOW vodka.

“The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup is our signature event and our way of celebrating the superstars of our trade. We are working hard to make sure that 7th time around it will be more extreme and more outrageous than ever before” says 42BELOW Marketing Director Dion Nash.

Thus far, I have heard stories about fantastic dress up parties, a woman who can contort herself into a box and holds the world record for passing through an unstrung tennis racket in a minute, and I’m pretty sure the number was in the double digits. I would absolutely encourage you to try this at home to get a real idea of exactly what that feat entails. My own current pb is hovering around ¼.

Selection is underway right around the worlds, so contact your local Bacardi ambassador and inquire why you haven’t been made aware of one of the regional finals. It is an epic week, which if you survive will standout from pretty much any other contest out there. Continue reading

Legends of Bartending

An era ends, but there are certainly some new beginnings too.

Professor Jacob Briars has spread the 42Below brand right across the globe.  His trainings, his sharp tongue and fantastic barside manner have won him the enduring love of a generation of bartenders around the world.

Yesterday marked the end of an era for both Briars and the brand, with his announcement of his final day inside the fold. The New Zealand offices for the brand have passed back to founder, Geoff Ross and his new Ecoya venture, the brands direction resting now with the Princes of Darkness in Bacardi Global Brands in London. The Professor’s departure seems like the final piece of kiwi madness has gone from the now global product.

Jacob is rumored to be offering some advice and support to Stolen Rum, adding some effervescence to the Tonic offerings with Quina-Fina and given his love for Wellington and kiwi products, there’s sure to be more from this erudite young man soon. He’ll also be basing himself in San Fransisco for the medium term. My fingers are crossed that he’ll solve Australia’s, or at least my, mezcal shortage.

He’ll also be back with 42Below for a swansong performance at Carnival of the Cocktail next year.

Those of you lucky enough to be in Auckland this Friday will get the chance to experience the first of the now ex-Professor’s ventures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is opening a bar. Called the Golden Dawn, Jacob has paired up with Sam Chapman, of Matterhorn fame to bring a craft beer and tasty cocktail venue to life.  You’ll find me there, chugging down Lageritas. 134 Ponsonby Rd, the old Open Late Cafe premises.

For any of you who don’t know Jacob, he has spent the last decade travelling the world, spreading vodka love and collecting an extremely grand spirits collection.  I’m told the back bar at the Golden Dawn has been supplemented by this trove.

Bottle Shop, Industry News

Augment This!

42 Below have taken Augmented reality to point of sale in the New Zealand market. Their Fatboy kiosk allows potential imbibers of the world’s most awarded vodka to interact, learn about the product and how to use it.

Yes. This is an unashamed gimmick but remember, they’re selling vodka, a spirit that is 99% style and 1%substance. What I love about it is they’ve found a way to take a new piece of technology and move it close to the point where people make a purchase decision. I am sure that it will suck people in like a honeytrap does bees.

Nice work!

Event, New Zealand

The Luck of the Irish

The 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup is all about making extraordinary cocktails in  extraordinary environments. Many of the challenges are judged on the originality and creativity of the drinks, but when it comes to measuring the skills of a true bartender, one drink sets the benchmark- the classic Martini. “Modern Martini’ was the fourth challenge in the 2010 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup, the eight teams all preparing their version of the timeless drink.

The panel of four international judges recommended contestants keep things simple for this round, and that was exactly what the winners did. The competition’s loveable, if slightly loud, rogues- Team Ireland, taking it by the slightest of margins. Their appropriately titled ‘Kia Kaha’ (meaning ‘stand strong’ in Maori) was made of 42BELOW Pure, Lillet Blanc and sprayed with a Feijoa mist. In typical Irish style, the team came up with their winning entry on the bus on the way to the event! “I’m truly blown away to have won tonight, we’ve been gutted every time we have lost a challenge, we really wanted to do this for each other” says Team Ireland big man Andy Wall. US Bartender of the Year and our esteemed judge Jim Meehan said the Irish entry stood out for its simplicity and elegance, “it’s a drink I would be proud to serve in my bar,” said Meehan.

The Modern Martini challenge was the first event to be held in Wellington in the lead up to the grand final on Saturday March 27th, where the teams will prepare their signature drink for a live audience.

The convoy of bartenders, international judges and media had the ultimate ending to the Queenstown leg of the cup, being taken by helicopter from the Skyliner Gondola to the airport for their own rock ‘n’ roll charter flight. It was an inflight experience like never before, passengers provided with rock star wigs and glasses while sipping on a 42BELOW ‘Aviation’ cocktail and listening to AC/DC on takeoff. The plane was met by a scrum of local ‘papparazzi’ as they transferred to their stretch limos for a brief tour of the capital. “It’s the closest we’ll ever get to being real rock stars. I’ve never been treated so well before,  it was stupidly good,” says Australian team member and the country’s bartender of the year Chris Hysted.

Kia Kaha

50ml 42BELOW Pure
20ml Lillet Blanc
42Below Feijoa Vodka mist

Competitions, New Zealand

Cocktail World Cup is coming.

The event is less than a month away. It sounds as though it’s going to be epic. If you’re going to be in Wellington on the 27th, get down to the Old Museum Building for a wicked sick night of cockatilian construction. Tix on the website or from Hawthorn in Welly.

For those who want more. try the press release, the website and make sure you join the facebook fan page. If enough Aussies are vocal, AIRNZ will probably come to the party with a deal to get you across the ditch for it.

Can’t wait…

Cocktail, Unusual Martinis

Unusual Martinis #2

Curry Martini

Sometimes just producing a more meaty martini doesn’t quite cut it. For those times, and probably only as a first drink, i give you the Curry Martini. This drink was invented by Rush, a Nepalese bartender at Opia at the Jia Hotel in Hong Kong for the 42 Below Regional finals.

The Curry Martini

Muddle red and green chilli, lemongrass, shallots, coriander, ginger and garlic in the bottom of a Boston Glass. Add 30 mls 42 Below Manuka Honey vodka, 15 mls ginger liqueur, 30mls pineapple juice. Add a dash of egg white for a silky consistency and a dash of simple syrup for balance. Top the glass with ice and shake vigorously. Double strain the drink into a martini glass to ensure none of those pesky chili seeds make it through to burn your mouth. Garnish with chili, onion and coriander and let the flavor explode on your palate.

You can even watch Rush make it himself on youtube.

Rush likes his with a reinvention of the Falling Water cocktail, but its great on its own as well.

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Cocktail, Unusual Martinis

Unusual Martinis #1 it’s easy to focus on the classics. The crisp, dry bite of a perfectly stirred Gin Martini; the nutty richness of a well made old fashioned; the smoky depths of a Sazerac or the rich fruity and herbal notes of a Woodford Manhattan.

Other times you need to push the boat out. Sometimes a reply of ‘make me whatever you want’ unlocks an impish desire to do something a wee bit silly, something unexpected, something like a bacon martini.

It might surprise you, but there are a huge number of variations of a bacon martini online. Most, posted by Canadians and the calorie consuming southern cousins are thick sweet and rich with maple syrup and occasionally sugar as well. Personally, my preference is for liver failure over obiesity so I’m going to lave the syrup for my pancakes and focus on the bacon and booze.

The Bacon Martini

Take a couple of rashers of bacon, streaky if you must, home cured wild if you can. Slap them on some foil and throw them under the grill, the grill should be hot and you should keep an eye on it, lest you be left with a charcoal martini. The idea is to get the bacon crispy, with most of the fat out of it (the surface of the finished drink should have tiny grains, NOT pearls of fat on the surface. Pat the bacon down with some paper towels to remove any excess grease and place one rasher into a mixing glass for each drink you intend to make. (you might want to do a couple of little rashers, as pictured above as a garnish, I’ve also found pancetta useful for this…)

Muddle the bacon with a big stick, it should break into little chips, increasing the surface area and releasing its bacon-y goodness. Add 55 mls of 42 Below vodka  & 5 mls of 42 Below manuka honey flavoured vodka to the bacon. Ice the glass and stir it for about 20 seconds to achieve a silky level of dilution. If you have an excess of fat in the drink, it can be clarified by dipping a piece of bread quickly into the drink, absorbing the fat. 

Strain the liquid into a martini glass and garnish with a small piece of charcuterie. Olives or roasted garlic could work too.


A big thanks to Jacob Prain, once upon a time barkeep at the Matterhorn in Wellington, New Zealand and more lately of Hamilton House and Chinatown in Shanghai for letting me in on this little gem of a drink.


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