It’s fair to say that we look forward to some competitions more than others.
The same obviously goes for you lot, as the comps we anticipate judging are usually the ones that get hundreds of entries.
El Dorado’s Swizzle comp is at the sharp end of this list. The prize (a trip to Guyana) obviously has something to do with it, as does the quality of the rum. But I think the Swizzle itself plays a large part – it’s such a happy cocktail, both to make and drink. Even a bad Swizzle is a good Swizzle, if you know what I mean.
The 2013 El Dorado Swizzle comp’s regional heats began last week. Two bartenders from each region will go through to a UK final, the winner of which gets a seat on the plane to Guyana. Last year the standard of both drink and chat were first rate, with Alex Proudfoot eventually taking first place.
This year, the journey began in West London, and The Rum Kitchen.
As always with El Dorado events, there was a large bowl of punch waiting for the competitors and judges as we arrived at the Rum Kitchen (which still smells faintly of Alexx Mouzouris’ hair grease – have a great time in Hawaii mate!).
A few West London competitors had jumped ship (the East London heat will be a monster as a result) because the comp clashed with Glastonbury festival, so we were able to proceed at a pleasantly sedate pace.
The competitors first challenge was to blind taste and identify three expressions from the El Dorado range. This done, they then took their turn behind the bar to make their original Swizzle for the judges.
Crushed ice flew in all directions for the next couple of hours. We also saw fire (although not as much as we expected), a robot and, memorably, a cricket bat employed as a Swizzle stick. There may have been a layback or two, too.
Once tallied, the judging sheets were unanimous and we were pleased to see Sean Fennelly (Portside Parlour)pop his competition cherry with a win, alongside Stefano Stezampieri (Sofitel, St. James).
Brass Neck Swizzle – Sean Fennelly
20ml El Dorado 3YO
35ml El Dorado 15YO
60ml Tiger Milk (home made: carrot juice and milk)
10ml Briottet Crème de Figue
10ml Clove syrup
1 Dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
1 Dash Maison Fontaine Absinthe
Garnish with El Dorado-infused figs and glazed walnuts
Old Roger – Stefano Stezampieri
60ml El Dorado 12YO
25ml Home made eucalyptus and wormwood cordial
20ml Lemon juice
2 Bar spoons demerara sugar
4 Dashes cherry bitters
Garnish with a lemon and orange twist
The El Dorado Swizzle Train then choo-chooed its way to Bristol.
Please excuse the terrible line above, Do the Choo-Choo by Archie Bell & The Drells played on the radio as I was writing this.
Bristol always nails competitions. Not only because there are some great Bristolian bartenders, but also because interlopers from Reading and Oxford often enter Bristol heats.
The Swizzle comp was no exception, and again the drinks were brilliant. The standard of presentation was also excellent, with our current competition bugbear – boring, monotone delivery of brand knowledge – conspicuous by its absence.
As quite often happens, the winner’s honours were split between Bristol and Reading, with James Bridges (Bristol) and Alex Godfrey (B@1, formerly Sahara, Reading) both claiming a place in the UK final.