As it was when the guys from Diageo’s Reserve Brands first got in touch with us regarding the kick-off for this year’s World Class competition: ‘Hi guys how would you like to spend the afternoon in Mahiki drinking rum and chatting with Pampero Master Distiller Luis Figueroa and Ian Burrell?’
So off to Mahiki we trotted for the first of three branded sessions World Class are running up and down the country to spread the word of the competition.
As you may have guessed by the line-up, they are starting with Rum this year, and after sessions (and presumably some fun nights out) in Edinburgh and Manchester they landed in London before heading onto Bournemouth.
The idea behind these sessions is to give the bartenders in the UK as much knowledge and inspiration as possible when creating their cocktails for the competition.
With three separate sessions, and therefore heats, leading up to the final (the others coming early next year so watch this space for a heads up) there are plenty of opportunities and with last year’s winner being the UK’s very own Erik Lorincz the pressure is on.
The room was packed out with some of the city’s top bartending talent and they were treated to a rum education and tasting by Ian who in his usual style combined huge knowledge and insight with great stories, including one about the guy who is suing the church for his loss of Angel’s Share – pure gold.
After tasting a variety of rums including, of course, Ron Zacapa with Ian the stage was set for Luis to tell us all about Pampero. Punctuated by tastings of Pampero we got a history of the brand and a few extra tit-bits of information, especially after certain guys in the room pushed him for extra knowledge.
Finally as way of inspiration Tristan Stephenson from Purl jumped up to show us a couple of cocktails he’d come up with and explained his thought process and how each related specifically to Zacapa and Pampero. The elbows and long arms were out when tastings of these were offered and although we weren’t quick enough to get a try, the approving nods from those who did would suggest Tristan hit the mark.
Everyone left Mahiki, and no doubt the other sessions, full of ideas and a bottle of Zacapa to get inspiration from.
If you did, or indeed didn’t, attend these sessions then time is ticking away to get your recipe in – the deadline is this Sunday 14th November.
If you would like to enter head to the World Class website and get your recipe entered. Each and every one of them is going to be made and tasted so even if, like my eHarmony profile, it sounds awful in writing as long as it tastes good in reality you have a good chance.
Head to the site, get your entry in and it could be you presenting to Dale DeGroff in a few month’s time!