We predicted a titanic battle when the Edinburgh finalists in the Chartreuse Last Word Twist competition were announced and that’s exactly what we got.
In the end it was James Drummond from Ricks Bar who got the nod with his superb, The Sounds of Silence.
Matthew Dakers the UK Chartreuse Brand Ambassador (or Mr Green as he is rapidly becoming known) had this to say:
‘The 2nd heat of the ‘Who will have the last word?’ competition saw the best Edinburgh had to offer! But this competition is not straight forward and doesn’t simply just require making 1 cocktail! Having a mystery shopper helping with the judging, it gives us an inside look into what a regular consumer experiences.
The mystery shopper commented on how helpful the bartender was. James wasn’t even serving them but it shows the great team work that ricks have. The drink itself was a great twist, combining chocolate, chartreuse and sour. All the other bars had great drinks, and it wasn’t easy deciding a winner.
Congratulations James. You can see his video here very soon!’
The mystery shopper (or drinker presumably) is an often overlooked judging criteria in cocktail competitions but as Mr Green points out it gives an often hard to quantify view through the consumers eyes.
The mystery shopper on this occasion gave this feedback:
Initial Greeting – Excellent. Lovely friendly barman. Cocktail menus given and water offered. Very quiet, no one else at the bar.
Speed in Suggestion – Clue word of chartreuse gave the barman the opportunity to mention they had various chartreuse cocktails, but if I wanted something different, he had a fabulous cocktail that he and a colleague had put together … The Sounds of Silence! He asked if I was ok with egg white. He was very passionate about the drink.
Quality of drink – Beautiful …. Had 3 during the evening.
Congratulations go out to James and whilst we leave him to go and buy a new shirt ready for his moment in front of the camera to film his creation (if you can’t wait to see his video to get the specs of the drink then click here) let’s move on to announcing the finalists in the next city, Glasgow.
The First Time Cocktail – David Smillie, Booly Mardys
20ml Green Chartreuse
20ml St Germaine
20ml Pink grapefruit juice
Shake, strain. Garnish with grapefruit twist.
I think for this comp it’s important to keep with the key points of why the Last Word is so popular. It’s simplicity and the fact that it balances with equal parts. So my creation stays with 4 ingredients at equal parts of all 4.
The Fairground – Dean Evans, The Finnieston Bar & Restaurant
25ml Yellow Chartreuse
25ml Bols Genever
25ml lime juice
20ml Crème de Peche
Shaken like a man and served in a coupe with a super cherry garnish.
I wanted to do something lighter and slightly sweeter than the original, using Yellow Chartreuse and Creme de Peche does this very well and both combine amazingly. The slight increase in sweetness takes none of the complexity away from it either, as for the Genever it gives the drink a nice rounded mouth feel. I found London dry gin to abrasive with the sweetness whilst the malty character of Genever offered a more balanced flavour. As for the lemon instead of lime, well lime is dry and tart and clashes whereas lemon works wonders.
My reason for wanting to increase sweetness and lightness comes down to sales, you could say the original is an acquired taste and this offers all the complexity and depth of flavour as the original but has more mass appeal and is currently my most popular drink on the menu. I’ve found it’s a great drink to introduce Chartreuse to the tamest of palates.
I called it The Fairground because of the elaborate flavour profile, it reminded me of the fair. People tend to be drawn to names of drinks they associate with their childhood if that makes any sense? It seems to work!
The cherry is the most appropriate garnish as it is a final treat when you finish and it gives the drink a nice colour.
The Unsinkable? – Aidan Bowie, Blythswood Square Hotel
25ml Green Chartreuse
25ml Merlet Peach Liqueur
25ml Lemon juice
25ml Manzanilla Sherry
2 Dashes celery bitters
The “Unsinkable?” is based on a dessert served on The Titanic – a green chartreuse jelly with spiced peaches. The Unsinkable plays on the tragedy of The Titanic and commemorates its 100th anniversary this year drawing on the idea of ”famous last words” where the ship was widely marketed as ”unsinkable”, a feat it infamously did not live up to.
“The Unsinkable?” while recreating the dessert served that evening, is enhanced by a hint of sea air bitterness by using celery bitters and salty Manzanilla Sherry. The drink was designed to highlight Chartreuse as the main ingredient, complimenting the peach liqueur and lemon juice giving a delicious light summery drink. It was important to create a drink which appeals to a broad spectrum of taste and looks aesthetically pleasing.