The national Herradura competition kicked off recently finding the finalists who will be competing for a trip to Mexico early next year.
There haven’t been a lot of Tequila competitions recently so as we headed to Manchester House to judge the first of the Herradura heats we were excited to see what the competitors had in store for us.
If you haven’t been lucky enough to head to Manchester House yet do yourself a favour and head on over, the views across the city are only matched by the impressive back bar and great design, it was a fantastic place to spend a day drinking Herradura cocktails. However before we got into the competitors signature drinks Herradura Brand Manager Nicci Stringfellow had a surprise up her sleeve.
We’ve known Nicci a long time now and always thought of her as a lovely, friendly, smiley kinda person but its appears there is a dark side, a side which likes to inflict pain and misery on people. This previously hidden side came bubbling to the surface as she revealed the first challenge to face the unsuspecting bartenders.
Round one saw the group herded into a holding room by fellow conspirator Becky Davies before they were released one by one back into the bar to be served a cocktail made by Nicci. From here they had to taste it, figure our what ingredients were in it, then from a mystery box select the ingredients they suspected and recreate the drink.
If you think this is anything other than sodding hard then try it yourself. Bear in mind this was not a classic cocktail, this is an original creation by Nicci including fig and marmalade. See we told you, she is a cruel, cruel lady.
After a well earned spot of lunch, a Tommy’s Margarita and quiet possibly some counselling the bartenders were back to face the judges (BarLifeUK, Nicci & Living Ventures David Ray), this time with the more comfortable task of making us the drink they had entered.
It wasn’t just their drink that had got them into the heat however, they had also been asked to explain how the drink represented their story and this was being marked alongside the cocktail.
Matt Ashton, who was on home ground, kicked off proceedings and immediately made up for dropping, and therefore locking, his shaker in the first round when he announced the name of his cocktail ‘Herradura The Exporer’. If name of the day went to Matt then Olly Foster got quote (and possibly lie) of the day, when explaining about the history of Herradura he claimed ‘They made something beautiful…. kinda like my parents’.
Connor Sicock from Aloha put the fear of god into the 3, closely positioned judges, when he informed us, after heating his mugs that before he made his cocktail for the first time he’d never blazed before. Thankfully the judges and the bar as a whole remained burn free and he served up his twist in a banoffee pie.
Will Meredith from Elixir produced a first for BarLifeUK in the world of garnishes. Basing his drink the ‘3 Flower Family’ on the agave family he garnished with cooked asparagus and an asparagus salt rim.
Whilst everyone told a good story it was up to the only female in the competition to really make he judges sit back, put their feet up and listen. Selina Raggett from Manchester’s Hawksmoor produced one of the most interesting cocktail presentations we have seen in a long time.
Her story was all based around women in the industry and the Aztec goddess of fertility and agave. Seamlessly combining the ancient and current as well as brand and the spirit category. The drink itself was a light and floral affair with the tequila coming through and adding a nice kick to it.
So it was no surprise when the scores were tallied up and we had our winner in Selina. She will be heading to London for the final at Tequila & Mezcal Fest.
The next day saw the Birmingham heat of the competition take place, unfortunately we couldn’t make it but we had a chat with Nicci afterwards to get the lowdown.
‘5 competitors from 4 cities took place across the same two rounds as Manchester but with a Tequila & Green Chartreuse Smash as the blind taste test round.
Both rounds were of a high standard, with the winner Isaac Windsor smashing the first round with a near perfect replica. His winning drink, ‘Cold Gold’ looked and tasted great, with a fantastic accompanying presentation.
The drink was a journey in itself, with lots of small enhancements to compliment the tequila.’
50ml Herradura Plata
20ml Cocchi Rosa
15ml Honeysuckle syrup
2 dashes of peach bitters
Stirred, served straight up in a coupette
50ml Herradura Plata
10ml triple sec
10ml dark cacao
2.5ml rich demerara syrup
4 dash habanero shrub
Served up with gold coins