Once the inevitable Christmas and New Year’s Eve insanity has passed, most of the industry will be exhaling a sigh of relief and hoping for a less mental start to the year.
However, as February approaches, three sets of palms will become increasingly sweaty.
Those palms belong to Chris Moore, Daniel Bovey and Gordon Purnell and the reason for their perspiration – the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition UK final. When this particular bunfight is over, one of them will be the UK’s next contender to win this epic, Global competition. And it’s got to be our turn this time, hasn’t it?
We asked this trio of likely lads a few questions about their Legacy journey so far.
BLUK: So, who the hell are you, and where do you work?
Gordon Purnell and I work at The Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh.
I’m Dan Bovey from Sahara Bar in Reading.
And I’m Chris Moore, head bartender at Beaufort Bar, The Savoy in London.
BLUK: How did you go about creating your Legacy drink? What did you use for inspiration, and how long did it take to perfect?
DB: My inspiration was the name, El Momento Perfecto, the perfect moment. I wanted to create a drink that could take you away from everything, with complex layers and a long flavour profile, perfect for sipping after work or on one of our hot summer’s days….
It took a while to get right! I knew the style of drink I wanted to create would mimic what I really like to drink, but it was quite difficult to get the balance just right, especially keeping the Bacardi as the main event; I’m a massive fan of flavour bullies.
As far as timing goes, I think I put the cocktail forward with about two minutes to spare and tweaked it a bit before the regional as well.
CM: Because I had quite a specific idea about the style of drink I wanted due to my inspiration, I tried to think of a cocktail which appeals to everyone; women and men, bartenders and guests. The answer came to me in the form of the Clover Club (hence the raspberry eau de vie).
I tinkered with recipes for a while, but then I had a conversation with Guiseppe Gallo, Martini’s brand ambassador, who told me that Martini changed the formula for their Bianco vermouth from a spiced variant to vanilla because there was such a demand.
It was the most fashionable ingredient of the 1920’s. Looking at the other popular drinks of the era, I saw that the cocktail required something to add complexity and dryness. Aperol gave the drink a great colour, and a nice bitter edge.
GP: It was the first drink I ever made. Lucky really.
BLUK: Please tell us the name of your drink, its specification and the story behind it.
GP: The Silver Ghost
50ml Bacardi Superior
25ml lime juice
25ml apple juice
12.5ml Velvet Falernum
10ml rock candy syrup
2 green cardomom pods
1 sprig dried lavender
The Silver Ghost was designed to be elegant yet accessible. The idea was to create a drink which everybody would like, just like when Facundo Bacardi created his rum to appeal to the masses. In other words The Silver Ghost was made to encapsulate the spirit of Facundo Bacardi.
DB: El Momento Perfecto
45ml Bacardi Superior
25ml Lillet Blanc
1 barspoon orange marmalade
4 dashes bitter truth orange bitters
Stir over ice and serve over fresh cubed ice in an old fashioned with a cheeky twist of lemon.
El Momento Perfecto has the ability to transform any situation. It is a refreshing and bittered style drink perfect for hot climates as well as being a cocktail you will want to sip, savour and re-visit. I wanted to create a cocktail out of classic ingredients which could last the tests of time.
By using Lillet Blanc, Byrrh, Campari, orange bitters and marmalade with the beautifully floral, light and creamy Bacardi Superior Rum, I was able to create a cocktail that could have been dreamed up by one of the classic London Cantineros, such as Ada Coleman or Harry Craddock.
CM: The Encantador
40ml Bacardi Superior
10ml Framboise eau de vie
25ml Fresh Lemon Juice
15ml Vanilla Syrup
Encantador means ‘enchanting’ or ‘the enchanter’ and to me, Cuba is the enchanted isle.
I took my inspiration from Cuba in the 1920s when the American’s were invited to come over. In particular, high society circles visited and this had a knock-on effect on society in general – the Savoy even had an in-house band called the Savoy Havana Band.
It was also a time when more ladies were entering bars, which drove a trend for a fruitier flavour profile.
BLUK: How do you deal with nerves when presenting at a big competition like Legacy?
CM: I think it’s important to remember that this is what you do every day. I’ve been behind the bar for 10 years now, and getting to talk about what I do is something that makes me happy, so why worry?!
GP: Very tough, definitely one of the hardest things I have had to do, have a couple of daiquiris and be yourself. It really helps.
DB: I make sure I’m fully prepared, get to the venue early, set up and go over my notes one last time. Then just before I go up I have a large whisky to take the edge off.
I shake like crazy when I’m nervous so the more I can do to combat that the better. One of the best things I’ve found is practice, do as many comps, trainings and masterclasses as you can. The more you do the less daunting it becomes.
BLUK: What has been the best part of the journey for you so far?
DB: Other than the epic trips to Miami, Mexico and Tales of the Cocktail, making my cocktail for 600 people on the 71st floor of a Five Star Hotel in Singapore, meeting lots of fantastic bartenders all over the place, the sense of achievement of being selected by Dale Degroff, Audrey Saunders, David Cordoba and Peter Dorelli to go through to the three most promising and seeing my cocktail in different bars across the country?
I’d have to say getting my cocktail into Gaz Regan’s 101 best Cocktails of 2012 would be the highlight. He’s such an industry icon and so many of us look up to him, it made my Christmas to know that El Momento Perfecto would be featured. Plus he’s a total dude.
CM: I honestly think presenting at the UK final and going through to the three most promising was such a high that I’ve still not come down from it. The support I received that night was like nothing I’ve ever had before.
Since then I’d have to say my guest shift at Angel’s Share. I was the first person to do a guest shift there in 15 years, and also the first non-Japanese bartender!
GP: Being in the paradise that is the Bacardi distillery in Puebla Mexico, casually chatting to three generations of master blenders – incredible!
BLUK: Where is your drink being served so far?
GP: It’s on the menu of 99 Aberdeen but has been featured on many specials boards around the UK and will be appearing on other menus very soon.
DB: El Momento Perfecto is being served at Sahara Bar (Reading), Cerise at the Forbury Hotel (Reading), The Bridge Brasserie (Chippenham), Florio Bar (Oxford), City Space (Singapore), Introbar (Singapore), Equinox Restaurant (Singapore) and on special at Calabash Bistro (Canada). It is also being served at all the Jamie’s Italians across the Country.
CM: A few places in the UK, Australia, and America. I’m just about to tie up a global listing and I’m working on more in the UK and Europe.
BLUK: What, for you, makes a classic cocktail?
CM: Something simple and accessible, which tastes great.
DB: To me a classic cocktail is a drink that evokes the era in which it was created, can last the test of time and can be made by a cocktail bartender in most bars.
GP: A cocktail will most likely become a classic if it is well balanced, and accessible. A cool name doesn’t hurt.
BLUK: Why should bartenders enter the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition?
GP: Why shouldn’t they enter? For me it’s the best competition in the world. It sums up everything which I love most about our industry, to be involved is such an honour and I think every bartender should give it a shot.
CM: Because there are very few opportunities to make a name for yourself around the world. It’s a special chance for you to showcase your talents and push yourself to really achieve something. When I got through to the three most promising, Zdenek just said to me, “Enjoy the journey”. It’s been incredible.
DB: It’s a great chance to meet lots of other bartenders, get your name and your cocktails out there, see your ideas come to life and have a ridiculously good time while you’re at it!
BLUK: And finally, tell us something about yourself that we may be surprised to learn.
DB: I’ve had no post mix since January and will be toasting the New Year in with a glass of lemonade.
GP: I have a pet orangutan, like the one that Clint Eastwood has in the popular film ‘Any Which Way But Loose’.
CM: One of the first bars I worked in was Chicago Rock Café. We wore bright yellow shirts and danced on the bar. They won’t let us do that at the Savoy…