El Recuerdo & Zignum Mezcal Competition 2023 South West Heat Results

Bartenders from Bristol and Reading progress to the El Recuerdo & Zignum Mezcal national final

The last Love Drinks / El Recuerdo / Zignum mezcal regional heat took place last week in Bristol, and as we have come to expect from that city, the competitors delivered some outstanding drinks.

Mike Widge, HMSS, Reading

The heat took place at the Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery – an excellent bar well worth a visit next time you are in Brizzle – with Samantha Burke (MD of Love Drinks), Dan Bovey (Bristol legend and competition veteran) and myself (middle aged man) on the judging stools. All of the competitors turned up, some bringing supporters with them, which always makes for a great atmosphere, and overall, the enthusiasm and creativity on show made this a really fun competition to judge.

In the past, Bristol had a reputation for ‘stirred down and brown’ drinks, however in contrast to the London heat which was notable for the absence of shaken cocktails, the South West heat produced a real variety of cocktail styles. Proceedings followed the format of the previous heats, the El Recuerdo entrants performed first, followed by a pizza-break, before the Zignum entries took their turn and, as ever, a couple of honourable mentions are in order before we get to the winners.

Selina Otremba, Milk, Reading

Jamie Gilmour, who travelled down from Manchester to represent The Washhouse in Manchester produced two really tasty drinks, delivered in an unforced and naturally entertaining manner that was a pleasure to experience. I would expect to see Jamie winning lots of comps in the future. Joseph Theo Millar of The Cocktail Service also deserves a nod for the amount of effort and ‘outside-the-box’ thinking that went into his two serves. Well played Joseph…

This brings us to the winners. Mike Widge of Bristol’s HMSS made an absolutely delicious El Recuerdo cocktail called The Cuarteto, which paired coffee and chocolate flavours with citrus to produce a drink that was dangerously drinkable. And Selina Otremba of Milk Bar in Reading absolutely nailed both drink and presentation with a Zignum entry called Of fruit And Clay. Selina’s cocktail was delicately floral and perfectly balanced, employing the same zero waste philosophy that Zignum strive for at their distillery. All in all, a very worthy pair of winners who now have the chance to win a trip to Oaxaca or Barcelona at the national final next week.

Thanks to everyone who entered the South West heat, we really appreciate your time and effort, and also thanks must go to the crew at the Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery, who looked after us so well. Next stop, the final…

The Winners and their drinks

Mike Widge, HMSS, Bristol
The Cuarteto

40ml El Recuerdo Abocado Con Gusan
5ml Gabriel Boudier Creme De Cafe
7.5ml Gabriel Boudier Creme De Cacao
15ml Pineapple juice
15ml Lemon juice
15ml 1:1 Sugar syrup

Selina Otremba, Milk Bar, Reading
Of Fruit and Clay

1.25oz Zignum Reposado
1oz Homemade Prickly Pear and Cactus Tea*
0.5oz Fig Leaf Liqueur
0.75oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 Barspoon/5ml Paranubes Oaxacan Cane Juice Rum
2 dashes Angosturra Bitters

Glassware: Traditional Oaxacan Drinking Bowl
Method: Stir and strain
Garnish: Flamed Orange Blossom Spritz

* Made by blending fresh Prickly Pears with Cactus Petals after stewing for an hour in water (equal weight), strain, add sugar worth 25% of weight left after straining. Served on a fresh fig leaf with a small bowl of Cacahuates Oaxaquenos – THE bar snack of Oaxaca.

Just like Zignum, this drink is designed to showcase and honour histroy and tradition. From its ingredients, over method, all the way to glassware, it explores Oaxaca’s indigenous population with emphasis on their relationship with their gods and nature – a tale of fruit and clay. Of fruit and clay is a drink that pays respect to not only Oaxacan culture but also to the environment, having been designed to be zero-waste.