There was a time when rum competitions would see you exit proceedings with singed eyebrows, covered in pineapple juice.
In recent years, rum’s position has evolved from beach-party spirit to well-understood cocktail base, and the comps have grown up a bit.
This is probably a good thing for the sector, if not so much the judges and spectators, however, El Dorado competitions always seem to strike a balance between the two extremes, and as such we look forward to judging them.
This year, El Dorado took a break from their perennial Swizzle comp and commissioned two bespoke vessels, both of which were designed to highlight a facet of the rum’s Guyana home.
The first, a green ceramic bromeliad, complete with yellow poison arrow frog perched on the rim, calls to mind the humid jungles of Guyana.
The second is a bamboo mug which has been laser etched with the mottled pattern of a Jaguar’s coat (which almost everyone in the competition referred to as leopardskin).
The brief for this comp was simple: The bromeliad vessel was matched with El Dorado 3YO, and the Jaguar mug with El Dorado 5YO – pick one and create a drink that tastes great and reflects both the serving vessel and the rum in it.
Five heats were held across the UK, with two regional winners (three in the case of East London, due to a greater number of entrants) from each going through to the London final, where the ultimate winner will be decided, and receive a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Guyana for their efforts.
The quality at all five heats was exceptional, with presentations that featured everything from traditional tiki fire fests to out-and-out chemical geekery.
There were great drinks at every heat, but it must be said that whoever is doing competition training in Leeds is really nailing it – the heat at Mojo provided some of the best ‘knowledge and promotion’ marks BarLifeUK have seen in a long time.
Congratulations to all the regional winners, and we’ll be seeing you soon at the final to find out who will bag a seat on the plane to Guyana.
The winners and their drinks
Scotland heat winners: Matt Wakeford – G&V Hotel (Edinburgh); Emma Andrews – Heads & Tails (Edinburgh)
Matt Wakeford – What’s Your Poison
50ml El Dorado 3YO
25ml Tangerine juice
20ml Creme de Figue
12.5ml Yellow Chartreuse
25ml Pomegranate molasses
25ml Rubicon guava
3 Dash chocolate bitters
Combine, shake and strain over crushed ice.
Emma Andrews – Cat-astro-tree
50ml El Dorado 5YO
25ml Lime juice
25ml Cherry Oleo
25ml Cinnamon and vanilla-infused Mauby tree bark syrup
Combine, shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig, cherry and dehydrated lime.
Leeds heat winners – Dan Crowther – Sandinista (Leeds); Lee Jones – Smokestack (Leeds)
Dan Crowther – Snickerbocker Glory
50ml El Dorado 5YO
50ml Snickers ganash
12.5ml White cacao
50ml Half and half
Blend and serve.
Lee Jones – Six Degrees From a Hopping Nation
60ml El Dorado 3YO
20ml Lime juice
40ml Apricot syrup
10ml Simple syrup
40ml Coconut water
5ml Cacao blanc
Combine, shake and strain. Garnish with ‘swamp’ mint, ‘lily’ lime wheels and candy frogs.
West London heat winners: Rasa Gaidelyte – LAB (London); Angelo Rossi – Equus (London)
Rasa Gaidelyte – Jaguar Bite
Due to Rasa’s utterly unintelligible handwriting, the specs for her drink are unavailable. But we can report that it was super tasty, and had El Dorado 5YO, Benedictine and Mango in it.
Angelo Rossi – Wendy Darling
25ml El Dorado 3YO
15ml Pregla Liquor
15ml Tip Pepe Sherry Fino
15ml Creme de banana
50ml Chai tea
50ml Lychee juice
East London heat winners: Joe Scofield – Zetter Townhouse (London); David Hamilton Boyd – Organic Spirits (London); Cedric Buscemi – Barrio North (London)
Joe Scofield – The Bunga Bunga Sour
35ml El Dorado 5YO
10ml Banana liqueur
2.5ml Pimento dram
25ml Egg white
25ml Lemon juice
10ml Sugar syrup
2.5 Dash Angostura bitters
Garnish with a lemon zest and banana food essence mist
David Hamilton Boyd – Walt’s 1595 Explorer’s Swizzle