Artesian Bar’s Alex Kratena bags a ticket to Mexico
LAB (we refuse to call it Academy) has seen many a crazy competition in the past, and Monday’s Tapatio bash was right up there.
The prize (a trip to Tapatio’s La Altena distillery) brought the great and the good of London’s bar scene out in force, along with contingents from Bristol and Oxford, and the stops were well and truly pulled out.
Every competitor was armed with a cocktail that made use of Tapatio Blanco or Reposado, often supplemented with a dose of Top Gear-style Mexican irreverence, and in many cases as much thought had gone into performance as the drinks – it made for an entertaining comp that had something of a Rematch vibe and probably reflects master distiller, Carlos Camerana’s rambunctious personality.
Judged by myself, Carlos Londono (GM Café Pacifico) and Charles Vexenat, points were awarded for the cocktail’s name (15), taste (40), Knowledge and banter (15), bar skills (15) and aesthetics (15).
Over 100 bartenders entered the comp, and the boys at Speciality Brands had a tough time choosing 20 finalists from hotel bars, style and good time bars for the heat at LAB.
It says a lot about the industry’s regard for Tapatio and Tequila in general that all 20 turned up (although one or two were a little ragged around the edges) along with a big crowd of spectators on a Monday afternoon, and the standard was incredibly high.
As with all comps, some of the entrants put on a great show but didn’t quite nail the drink, and in turn there were a couple of great drinks that weren’t backed up with sufficient brand and sector knowledge.
However, all three judges scored the top two competitors unanimously, with Artesian Bar’s Alex Kratena just edging out Rich Hunt from Hawksmoor Seven Dials.
Alex will join the winner of the Leeds and Edinburgh heats on the first ever bartender trip to the La Altena distillery in Mexico – one of the best competition prizes we have seen for a while.
Results for the next two heats will be published next week.
Alex’s Winning Drink
Oye Mi Canto
- 30ml Tapatio Blanco infused with sweet tamarind
- 50ml Martini Rosato
- 1dash Mandarin Bitters
- 5ml Sinle Village Mezcal Chichicapa
Garnish: Apple Blossom and Jasmine Flower, Glass: Coupete, Method: Stir
Rich’s 2nd Place Drink
- 45mls Tapatio Blanco
- 15mls Manzanilla Sherry
- 4.5mls (1 Barspoon) Gomme syrup (2:1)
- 2 Dashes Mezcal San Luis
1. Rusty Cerven (Connaught Bar)
2. Tiziano Tasso (The Club at The Ivy)
3. Alex Kratena (Artesian Bar at The Langham Hotel)
4. Rich Hunt (Hawksmoor)
5. Edward McPartlan (Portobello Star)
6. Jill Saunders (Savoy)
7. Andreas Tasanos (Purl)
8. Julian de Feral (Lutyens)
9. Karol Ansaldi (Zuma)
10. Bobby Hiddlestone (Milk &Honey)
11. Stuart Fritz (Lab)
12. Ladislav Piljar (Savoy)
13. Sonny Hall (Hix)
14. Lewis Wilkinson (Met Bar)
15. Sam Kershaw (Hyde & Co, Bristol)
16. Joe Wood (LCC)
17. Davide Segat (Hawksmoor)
18. Ruaridh Muir (Raouls, Oxford)
19. Warren Lee (Viajante)
20. Walter Pintus (One Aldwych)