Nottingham Bartender Represents UK at Finlandia Vodka Cup

Christian Tirel from Nottingham’s Coco Tang wins UK final, goes on to global final in Lapland.

Christian Tirel, Coco Tang, Nottingham

The Finlandia Vodka Cup is now in its thirteenth year, which as far as we can tell, makes it the longest-running vodka competition in the World. BarLifeUK has been reporting on the regional heats for some time now, and were very pleased to be invited to judge the UK final at the River Room in London in November.

We had some idea of what to expect, having seen the specs for the drinks that came through the regional heats, but it’s always interesting to compare the drinks with the taste you imagined when reading the recipes.

Blind Judging

Another interesting facet to the competition was the fact that it was judged ‘blind’. The panel were tucked away in separate room, isolated from the competition and crowd, with drinks being ferried in as they were made.

This takes the bartender’s performance or patter completely out of the equation and means the drinks are judged purely on their taste and appearance.

This definitely affects the outcome of a competition, as sometimes an average drink can win comp, carried by a bartender who has a particularly good presence behind the stick.

For a competition like this, where the sponsor brand wants to roll out the drink globally, and taste is key, I can totally understand why they went the blind tasting route.

Eleven finalists made an aperitif and long drink using any of the Finlandia variants, and based purely on taste, aroma, ease of prep and name, Christian cleaned up.

He goes on to the global final in Lapland early next year, where he will represent the UK and compete for the cup against 33 other nations. We wish him the best of luck!

Christian’s Drinks

“Finnish’d with Thyme to Spare”


  • 30ml Finlandia Cranberry
  • 10ml St Germaine
  • 10ml Cacao Blanc
  • 10ml Lemon juice
  • 3 drops Tabasco
  • Garnished with crushed ice & thyme


Add all the ingredients together and shake hard. Double strain and serve in a crystal goblet

“Funlandia Sima”


  • 30ml Finlandia Cranberry
  • 20ml Robin Hood Mead
  • 25ml Jasmine Syrup
  • 10ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 40ml Cranberry Juice


Add all the ingredients together and shake hard. Strain and serve over cubed ice with a lemon tulip speared with rosemary and rosemary mist sprayed over the glass, accompanied with mead fruit cake on the side