You don’t often get the opportunity to try 8 cocktails from 8 of the best bars in the south of England all in one room – Grand Marnier Le Grand Bal gave us just that chance.
The room itself wasn’t too shabby either, One Mayfair is an awesome space and was the perfect place to celebrate in grand fashion. The concept of the evening was a simple one, 8 bars would each produce a cocktail using 35ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge and then serve their drink from a mobile bar to the thirsty guests. These guests would then vote for their favourite drink/s using tokens. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Well yes it was, but the quality of the bars was really what transformed it into a great experience, the contenders were:
- Hyde & Co
- Worship Street Whistling Shop
- Sahara Bar
- Salvatore at Playboy
- Beaufort Bar
Four bars at a time served their drinks and each bar was 4 deep from the minute it opened until the minute it closed as the crowd fought like it was the January Sales at M&S to get a taste. Despite the fact they were using alien bars and knocking out the drinks at a huge rate of knots the quality of the cocktails on offer was amazing.
We had our personal favourites but this competition wasn’t judged by a group of trade ‘experts’ with an unnatural love of sour ingredients and herb infusions. The guests at this event were mainly the great unwashed – the general public! In this industry we can sometimes lose perspective of what it is that the customers want from their drinks and this was a great opportunity to give them a voice.
As the voting ended and the counting of the tokens took place in a vault somewhere, the bartenders gathered, took a deep breath, a deeper slug on a cold drink and waited for the results. The prizes were impressive to say the least with the winning bar (2 bartenders per team) being flown out to Tales of the Cocktail 2012 and the runners-up receiving a trip to the Grand Marnier Chateau in Bourg-Charente.
In the end it was the Salvatore at Playboy (Fabien Marcault & Aaron Jones) who took out the win with Beaufort Bar (Jill Saunders & Ludovic Solmi) taking second and the Sahara Bar (Ash and Daniel Bovey) claiming third and the prize for our favourite cocktail ingredient of the year – Berroca sugar syrup!
It was a great night and I am sure the Playboy guys will have a great time over at Tales next year. The winning drinks are below for you to enjoy yourselves:
Salvatore at Playboy
Cordon Rouge Cocktail
- 40ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge,
- 20ml french merlot,
- 20ml pineapple reduction,
- 20ml demerara sugar and spiced butter mix.
All ingredients shaken and served in a coupette, garnished with redcurrents dusted with sugar
- 35ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 15ml Tanqueray Gin
- 20ml pressed apple juice
- 10ml pressed lemon juice
- 15ml star anise syrup
Served from a large punch bowl, with dry ice carbonating and chilling the drink. Garnished with a chuck of triple frozen ice and warm, caramelised flambé apples prepared a la minute. Served in a coupette.
- 40ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 30ml lemon juice
- 25ml Compass Box Asyla
- 1 tsp marmalade
- 20ml Berroca sugar syrup
Shaken and strained in a martini glass or coupette. Garnished with a lemon twist.