Two UK bartenders are a little closer to living the 007 dream at Goldeneye, Chris Blackwell’s resort in Jamaica.
The Portobello Star graciously hosted the 2nd London Heat of the Blackwell Re-Mix competition, and the atmosphere was jovial.
Eight competitors, some of whom traveled from the wilds of Scotland, presented cocktails accompanied by the songs that inspired them. Predictably, Bob Marley tracks were heavily represented.
BarLifeUK sat on the judging panel with Carl Stephenson from Blackwell Rum and Jake Burger, owner, proprietor, and chief gin-ologist of the Portobello Star.
As each competitor stepped up to the bar, and rum flowed freely, the proceedings became a bit more raucous, with whoops and cheers for every unique shaking style on display.
In first place, Fraser Barrett’s Brimstone & Fire cocktail, accompanied by the eponymous song, perfectly combined the laid back vibe of Jamaica with creative and and well-balanced flavour combinations. His “shaking skank”, to the dulcet rhythms of Wayne Jarrett was a big hit with the judges and fellow competitors.
Fraser scored big points for doing his homework, and making sure that every ingredient he used was either indigenous to the region around the Blackwell Resorts or easily accessible there.
The drink incorporated orange, mango and lime juices, as well as a hibiscus and scotch bonnet syrup that gives the drink it’s signature spiciness. Wray & Nephew added kick, and the drink was finished with a Dragonrock Beer float that introduced bitterness and depth.
Ryan Osnowski, bartender at the Michelin starred Hind’s Head in Bray, took second place with a very different approach. His drink, called Punk Reggae, incorporated a wide variety of ingredients – Mango, coconut, pineapple, ginger, star anise, and konbu (kelp).
Ryan’s receptacles were entirely made out of coconut shell, including the ‘plate’ containing edible garnish of cocunut shavings salted caramel, and pineapple.
With all those competing flavours, Ryan’s cocktail was still perfectly balanced, and the judges were extremely impressed by the serve and the attention to detail.
Joe “I’ve been to two Carnivals – I’m well black!” Gunner snagged the runner-up spot, with a possible wild card place in the finals. His drink, Welcome to Jamrock, accompanied by the classic Damien Marley track.
Combining Blackwell with vintage marmalade, and blood orange syrup (get it?), and topping off the drink with coconut water, Joe won points for simplicity, and for phenomenal chat in the face of adversity.
Mid-serve, an ancient Portobello Star regular shuffled into the bar. “Bad things happen if Carlos didn’t get his stout,” Joe explained, as he rather gamely poured the Guinness before returning to serve his punch. Pure genius, though it might be hard to replicate that experience for the UK finals.
The next stop for Blackwell Rum is Brighton, this Tuesday, so Southerners get your recipes in, and you might be jetting to Jamaica to meet Chris in person.
Fraser Barrett – Brimstone & Fire
25ml homemade scotch bonnet & hibiscus syrup
25ml creme de cacao
60ml blackwell’s rum
15ml wray & nephew’s
60ml fresh orange & mango juice
top with dragon stout float
mango ball coated in chocolate (brimstone)
half flaming scotch bonnet (fire)
chilli hibiscus syrup
100 ml 1:1 sugar syrup
30 grams dried hibiscus flowers
1/8 scotch bonnet chilli flesh
simmered to infuse
Ryan Osnowski – Punk Reggae
Coconut Water, combined with mango juice
Coconut milk made from coconut and mango flesh
Pineapple, ginger, and konbu syrup
Garnished with salted caramel, fresh pineapple, fresh coconut shavings