I’ve always said that there aren’t enough cocktails with mushroom in them. And what a pretty video as well.
Diageo’s World Class program seems to be going from strength to strength this year, and I’m not just saying that because I keep getting asked to judge the NSW rounds‡. The contest asks bartenders from across the country, or at least the Eastern seaboard, to create a excellent cocktail featuring a spirit from Diageo’s Reserve range. Points are attributed for recipe and efforts in marketing the drink, both in venue and on the slightly more new fangled social medias. 10 are then chosen to take part in state finals, where bartenders are judged by the other nine to decide a top three who will face the esteemed panel of judges.
It should also be noted that points in World Class are not only awarded for the quality of the drink, the innovation of the recipe and skill of its production. The Reserve range are all tasty products alone in a glass, as such the contest rewards those who feature and improve the natural state of the spirits. A great way to think about making any drink, in my opinion, at least.
The final round of this years comp was the gentleman’s round, where contestants were asked to feature either the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, the Ron Zacapa Solera 23 or the slightly shorter named Talisker 10. The event itself was held at Tokonoma, to coincide with the launch of their own Diageo Reserve cocktail list, of which I stole a copy and will expound on in greater detail in another post.
The three who made it through to the final round were all gentlemen; Tim Philips from the bar no one can go to, Luke Reddington for the bar that always wins and Luke Ashton from a bar upstairs from another bar. It should not however be construed that only a Gentleman could win, as evidenced by the success of Krystal Hart from Canvas in the QLD round (more on that from Simon McGoram, over here)
The drinks they made were epic. Luke Ashton channeled a snake oil salesman with gentrified, clarified, with not all ingredients specified elixir, served up in custom printed vials too boot. Luke Reddington used the most exquisite collection of equipment to make his drink, and gave me my first ever quail’s egg flip. Tim Philips also bought quail’s egg to the party and promptly covered his shirt and much of the Tokonoma Bar with his emulsion in perhaps the most incredibly epic fail I have ever witnessed behind a bar, contest situation or no. To his enduring credit, he rallied. Cracking three more quail eggs, and whipping out his Autumnal flip again with a suitably epic poem, producing the winning drink and earning a place in the national final next month.
Ingredients & Quantities: .5 Fresh Fig (or Tbsp Homemade Fig conserve if unavailable,) 10ml Lemon Juice, 40ml Talisker 10, 30ml Zacapa Honey Liq. (Homemade,) 1 Whole fresh quails egg
Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients, dry shake, then shake. Serve up and garnish with atomizer sprays of ‘Zacapa Cinna-man Eau de parfum’
The Foppish flip from Luke Reddington at Eau de Vie
Ingredients & Quantities: 40ml Johnnie walker gold, 20ml Lairds bonded apple jack, Half a barspoon of branca menta, 15ml of maple & champagne reduction1 whole quail’s egg
Method, Glassware & Garnish: Add all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a refined gentlemans glass and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg & a spot of fanfare
Ashtons Elixir No. 23 from Luke Ashton at The Duke
Ingredients & Quantities : 45ml Ron Zacapa 23, 10ml Amaro Ramazotti, 4 dashes homemade ‘Muddy Moonshine Stomach Bitters’
Method, Glassware & Garnish: Combine all ingredients in chilled mixing glass and chill and dilute with large ice cube. Orange twist into the glass (dropping orange twist into glass) Strain drink into frozen miniature labeled bottles, No garnish
‡Just kidding, i love the fact I get to judge cocktail contests. Can’t wait for nationals….
I already wrote today about the newest edition to my liquor cabinet, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. The master blender at Johnnie Walker, perfectly named Mr Beveridge has opened the Gold Label reserve stock to create a great new extension to the brand.
The quality and character of the spirit shine through in this version of the blended whisky standard, The Sour.
The tasty Beveridge.
45ml Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, 15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 15ml real Canadian maple syrup, about 1/2 an egg white. Combine all the ingredients in a Boston glass and top with ice. Shake vigorously, you want to get the protein fibers from the egg to turn into meringue and give a great fluffy finish to the drink.
I know some people are squeamish about adding raw egg to a drink. It might be a little dicey, but the finish it gives the drink just can’t be found another way. Just to make things better, use an egg that is a couple of days old, it will fluff up much more than one straight from the chicken.
It seems that the use of single malts in cocktails has finally shaken loose a few of the world’s whisky drinkers and opened them up to a new level of blended whisky, one that offers an extremely smooth finish and an interesting complexity. Coupled with the strength of the Asian whisky market. It’s not hard to see why Johnnie Walker has just bought this new product to the market for Christmas.
The Gold Label Reserve is premium from the start. Well boxed and with a heavy foil closure, it delivers on a great ritual opening the cap for the first time. The shadow moulding of Johnnie walking is raised from a heavy and nicely designed piece of glass and filled with a great color of liquid. One tiny misstep before the whisky hit my lips, one of those annoying anti refilling device thingies but it works well once you give it a shake.
The tasting notes talk of vanilla and honey and they’re there along with the expected Walker smoothness, especially when you take it simply, over ice.
I mentioned a drink before that I think suits the new arrival beautifully, The Stengah. The drink harks back to a time when the British had an Empire, not a soccer marketing franchise stretching around the world. An administrative bureaucracy forced on people’s left many hours free to be filled with tennis, mixed race love affairs and grain spirits from mid afternoon.
Fill a highball glass with ice, add whisky to taste and fill the glass with soda.
The drink opens up the flavour of the spirit and the length and ice in the drink make it a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I might even try and shake it up into something later today.
Scotch isn’t my beverage of preference, but I really like this. It goes on sale tomorrow, and at $120 it would make a great gift. Diageo owns the brand, so you can probably expect distribution to be reasonably wide.