Sean Cavanagh Wins Bitter Truth Competition Final

Badger & Co Bartender wins The Bitter Truth Cocktail Competition

In celebration of its tenth anniversary The Bitter Truth launched its UK cocktail competition, searching up and down the country for talented bartenders mixing its products into delicious drinks.

With the heats decided, the six finalists made their way to London, ready to showcase their cocktails in front of Alexander Hauck, co-founder of The Bitter Truth, Dean MacGregor from Love Drinks and myself, representing BarLifeUK.

Sean on his way to winning the comp...
Sean on his way to winning the comp…

With such relaxed rules, and with Andy’s promise that these were some of the best drinks he’d discovered in competitions, all the judges were eagerly looking forward to the diversity and creativity from the bartenders. Unsurprisingly the level of competitors was extremely high and everyone who stepped behind the bar was able to lend their own thoughts of their choice of Bitter Truth product, aptly picking up on flavours to draw out.

But of course there could only be one winner.

What eventually separated the competitors on the day went beyond the drinks, which were all excellent, and boiled down to those extra details, including the addition of small food pairings which either complimented the cocktail or added to it some way. In the case of Tatjana Titimova’s beetroot and gin drink finished with Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters, the cocktail was completely lifted and given a luscious mouthfeel by her rich chocolate brownie garnished with beetroot. The same effect was rendered by a German cheese paired with Sean Cavanagh’s drink, with used both the Bitter Truth Pink Gin and Bitter Truth Creole Bitters alongside his homemade spiced pineapple and rosemary shrub and Yellow Chartreuse.

The Competitors

First to step behind the bar was David McLean from Alvino’s in Newcastle. Creating a twist on a classic Silver Bullet, he mixed Bitter Truth Pink Gin with kummel, celery juice, fresh lime juice, orange flower water syrup (made from mixing Bitter Truth Orange Flower Water with gomme) and finished his cocktail off with 3 dashes of Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters. Named the Golden Bullet his drink was savoury and moreish.

Massimiliano Terrile's wonderful sugar snap drink
Massimiliano Terrile’s wonderful sugar snap drink

David was followed by Matt Truslove from The Kenilworth Boutique Hotel in Warwickshire. He too created a twist, although on an Indian classic – the mango lassi. Called the Nosey Neighbour, Matt achieved this twist by fat-washing his gin with mango and vanilla yogurt as well as using mango oleo saccharum. His drink was beautifully presented in copper cups purchased in India and was wonderfully aromatic.

Tatjana Titimova from the Epernay in Manchester based her drink on memories from trips home to Latvia. She combined gin with beetroot syrup, citric acid and Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters but it was her food paring which really brought the drink together.

The only drink which didn’t use gin was presented by Jacob Burnham from the Ox, Cheltenham. His Truth Serum was a delightful and punchy cocktail based on Armand Guy Ponsec Anis which he diluted with water infused with Bitter Truth Peach Bitters and added a Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters sherbet. Jacob ingeniously crafted his own milk chocolate bar for the day, flavoured with Bitter Truth Nut Drops & Dashes, and centred with honeycomb crunch which was made using the Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters.

Massimiliano Terrile from Duck & Waffle in London changed the tone with his fresh and floral Truth Treasure made from fresh sugar snaps, gin, Bitter Truth Cucumber Bitters, Bitter Truth Elderflower Liqueur, lemon juice and orgeat. His homemade sugar snap ice cream pairing was seriously tasty and elegantly matched his cocktail.

The winner of the day however was Sean Cavanagh from Badger & Co, Edinburgh. His Truth Serum cocktail shone as the tastiest of the day and his relaxed style of presentation made all the judges feel at home. In addition Sean’s drink allowed the Bitter Truth products to sing and was only improved by his delectable food pairing. He walked away with the prize of £500 to spend at Cocktail Kingdom, and the entire Bitter Truth range.

The winning drink

Sean Cavanagh – Badger & Co.
Truth Serum

40ml Bitter Truth Pink Gin
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
20ml Spiced pineapple and rosemary shrub
2 Dash Bitter Truth Creole Bitters

Add all to tin, shake and double strain. Serve in a bitters bottle.