Maria Vieira of East London Liquor Co. secures place in Gabriel Boudier Wizard Competition final.
This is the first time I have judged a competition in which each competitor used a different core ingredient. The reason behind this diversity is that the Gabriel Boudier Wizard comp’s central concept is the invention of a new liqueur or créme, and the creation of a cocktail to showcase the resulting liquid. As such, the Wizard competition encourages an exploration of flavour and a demonstration of technical skills required to make a great tasting liqueur from scratch, which made for an interesting and enjoyable heat to judge.
The only rule given at the outset of the competition was that there should not already be a commercially available variant of an entry’s flavour, a stipulation which makes sense given Gabriel Boudier will put the eventual winner of the Wizard competition into production and add it to their range. The winning bartender will also get £1000 to boot, making this one of the best overall prizes we have seen this year.
At the end of a competition, one of the judges will generally say something along the lines of ‘that was difficult because all the drinks were so good’. This was absolutely the case at the London Wizard heat – all of the liqueurs tasted good – but it was the great variety that really made it hard to pick a winner. Both the liqueur itself and the resulting cocktail were scored, and as is often the case in multi-element comps, the majority of competitors nailed one thing but slightly miss with the other. The judging panel (previous Wizard winner Sam Boulton; Jack Rackham of Emporia Brands, Andy Ives of BarLifeUK), were agreed that three bartenders had nailed both elements, but we had them in slightly different orders. Some iPhone calculator arithmetic later, and we had our running order… It really was that close.
Congratulations are due to everyone who competed, and both BarLifeUK and Emporia Brands would like to thank everyone for the time and effort that was obviously invested in each entry. We’d also like to thanks the lads at Cocktail Trading Company for having us, it’s always a pleasure to spend an afternoon at your bar.
First Place, and going through to the Grand Final: Maria Vieira – East London Liquor Co.
“My Mustard Liqueur is a blend of two different varieties of mustard seeds (62.5% of Black Mustard and 25% of Brown Mustard) in order to give different levels of aromas and spiciness, together with a smaller amount of Black Peppercorns (12.5%) used to give a different fragrance and complexity both in the nose and in the palate. Ingredients are left to cold macerate in a neutral wheat spirit for different amount of time. Brown Mustard as first, followed after 2 hours by Black mustard and peppercorns, for a 7 hours in total. Once ready the spices were strained out and then caster sugar (no syrup, so no water) added to the flavoured spirit. This it will result in a robust, rich and oily liqueur with an ABV of about 32%. I decided to choose Mustard as ingredient to enhance the tastes of the region of Dijon, where Gabriel Boudier is from, while inspired about the constant evolution of drinks in relation with cuisine and how both bartenders and costumer respond really well, to new modern usage of “foodie” ingredients in their cocktails. A Mustard Liqueur to stimulate the appetite of people mind.”
25ml Mustard Liqueur
25ml Saffron Gin Gabriel Boudier
15ml Lemon juice
80ml Tomato mix (Passata + Juice)
5ml Beef stock
2 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 Pinch of Red Alaea Salt
Garnished with Watercress and a small pinch of powdered Brown Mustard
Second Place: Peter Konkoly – The Arts Club
“The past 3-4 years of my career has been highly influenced by Asian cuisine (Zuma, Hakkasan, Kyubi) and so was my liqueur composition. My choice of ingredient was black sesame seeds. These little seeds can help our busy, modern daily life; it’s unsaturated good fatty acids boost our energy and our memory; they are rich in magnesium, calcium and zinc contents which make our bones stronger. I released its oils by roasting the seeds, and gained the dark colour from caramelising the sugar, so the colour of the liqueur became the same dark what the black sesame seeds have. For the dilution I used water aromatised by boiling plums in it, then I blended with the neutral spirit what was provided by Emporia Brands. I then made my own black sesame bitters from the leftover smoked and strained sesame seeds with addition of gentian. My ‘Goma Rôti’ liqueur has layered flavours from the nose to the palate of toasted, nutty aromas with strong and rich texture. The final product is an 18.18% ABV crème liqueur, which could be a great substitution of coffee liqueur in cocktails. In honour to the Gabriel Boudier brand I combined the Japanese flavour with the traditional French ‘coffee gourmand’ serve. My signature drink was digestive with a ‘controversial’ use of Barolo Chinato, as quinine is banned in Japan, but for my palate chocolate dessert doesn’t exist without enjoying Barolo Chinato. I made my own Matcha macaroons with black sesame jam fillings for the gourmand serve. Under the concepts that green tea with sesame and chocolate with sesame pairs well”
40ml Yamazaki 12
15ml Homemade Roasted Black Sesame Liqueur
10ml Barolo Chinato
2 Dash plum bitters
1 Drop homemade Black Sesame Bitters
Lemon zest (discarded)
Stirred then served in rock glass over clear ice with dehydrated lemon wheel
Third Place: Sam Fraser – Rocking Horse (Chichester)
“My Liqueur is made from the Immortelle Flower that I discovered was growing on the mountains of Corsica while I worked there for a couple of Summers. Hence the ‘Spirit of the Mediterranean summer’ angle. The liqueur is made by macerating the dried flowers in the 50% alcohol that I was supplied with for 48hrs at room temperature, before filtering, diluting down to 30% and sweetening.”
‘Here comes the sun’
35ml La Cava Reposado Tequila
25ml Immortelle Liqueur
15ml Noilly Prat
10ml Organic honey syrup
Stirred with ice and strained into a Coupette.