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Raymond Blanc announces winners

Two Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc announced Team Belfast; Hayden Scott Lambert and Lisa McCarron from The Merchant Hotel, as the winners of the 42Below Cocktail World Cup national final. Team Belfast will go on to represent the UK in New Zealand next month (March) joined by Team West London; James Wynn-William, Trailer Happiness and Stuart Fritz and Danny Winter from Lab, which came runner up winning the Wildcard ticket

“The creativity of the competitors’ cocktails was truly amazing. It was an hounor to be part of such a wonderful competition with so much energy and talent, ” says Raymond Blanc.

Raymond Blanc, who will open his first cocktail/wine bar this year with the 2008 winner of the Cocktail World Cup in NZ and winner of the Restaurant Series 3, JJ Goodman, guest chaired the judging panel alongside industry figures Peter Dorelli and Kevin Armstrong.

“So much talent, so many great drinks. I have never seen bartenders put so much imagination and dedication into their performances. The competition is definitely the most exciting cocktail competition in the world today.” Peter Dorelli, 42BELOW Cocktail World Cup Judge.

The winning cocktail: Belfast’s Catch 42 was completely clear despite being based on tomato extract passionfruit puree, 42Below Pure Vodka, lime juice, sugar and salt. All the ingredients were completely clarified removing all visual cues to the incredibly light, fruity flavours within. The judges were impressed by the technical precision used as well as the delicate balance between the drink’s elements.Wildcard: Team West London’s Pacific Dawn cocktail took judges on a journey of discovery through the commonwealth colonies incorporating coffee from Kenya, Indian cardamon, treacle from West Indies, Navy Rum from Guyana infused with vanilla tobacco, liquorice from Southern Europe and 42BELOW Manuka Honey Vodka from New Zealand. The fragrant cocktail was served at 42 degrees centigrade in silver goblets with 42Below Kiwifruit jelly limes.The Audience vote: During the evening 200 guests and Shoreditch House members enjoyed 10 delicious punches in the Secret Garden and the rare chance to contribute to the judges decision by voting for their favourite. The vote saw West London emerge as the popular choice, closely followed by the tweed-clad team from Nottingham.The Competition: The international competition, which puts bartenders on the world stage in 13 countries, saw 30 of the UK’s best bartenders shake it out for the title. 10 Teams representing Belfast, Edinburgh, Bristol, Brighton, Nottingham, East London, West London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Leeds took to the stage to unleash their creativity and showcase emerging cocktail trends and innovations. Food & cocktail matching proved popular on the day with more than half of the signature drinks served with an amuse bouche: Vodka jellies, welsh cakes, sorbets, Vodka soaked sandwiches and scones appeared before the judges to accompany their cocktails. The drinks incorporated impressive technical preparations including clarification, dry ice, dehydration, atomization, infusion and maceration of ingredients. Exotic ingredients home brewed or sourced from afar also featured heavily and included spiced pine syrup, apricot balsamic bitters, hickory smoked water, dehydrated ginger root, pink peppercorns, kumquats, Feijoas and tobacco. But the real highlights of the day for spectators came from the theatrical and ingenious delivery of the drinks. East London inspired by the weird and wonderful sharing cocktails of Kanaloa hollowed out a live electric guitar which served a punch like cocktail from the base of the instrument with the push of a button. Meanwhile Nottingham brought the country to the city serving their cocktail from an English garden fountain. The Cocktail Challenge: Following the regional finals last September the top three competitors from each city who had 4.2months to work together as a team to create a cocktail for the Signature Drink Round of the national final. Bartender’s improvisation skills were also tested on the day in the Mystery Cocktail Round* where each team was tasked with creating a punch from a box of surprise ingredients. The drink highlights the current trend towards sharing cocktails. Adventurous options from Pine needles to Jasmine were paired with 42Below’s unique New Zealand flavours 42BELOW Passion, 42Below Manuka Honey, 42Below Feijoa and 42Below Kiwi to challenge and inspire their creations. The Prize: Along with the UK title, the evening’s champions won passes to go on tour in New Zealand next month where they will battle it out in the 42Below Cocktail World Cup 2010 grand final, country vs. country, through grueling cocktail challenges to take home the international title.The Hall of 42 Fame: The annual competition offers bartenders the opportunity of a lifetime providing unmatched international cocktail experience and industry prestige, bolstering their careers when they return home. Entrants from previous years include Richard Wynne now Founder of Callooh Callay, 2008 Theme bartender of the year Rich Hunt of newly opened Kanaloa and bar consultant Kevin Armstrong, former head of operations at Match group. Cocktail RecipesCatch 42 50mls 42Below Pure Vodka 30mls clarified tomato juice 17.5mls clarified passion fruit puree 15mls clarified lime juice 10mls sugar syrup pinch of salt Stir and strain into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry tomato.Pacific Dawn 50mls 42Below Manuka Honey Vodka 25mls Vanilla Tobacco infused Naval Rum 25mls Cardamom Infused Treacle Syrup 1tbs Kenyan Coffee Beans 4 drops Liquorice Bitters Serve at 42degrees centigrade in a silver goblet with a scurvy ration of 42Below Kiwifruit lime wedges. * Audience voting took place during the Mystery Round only February 10

1 February 2010 - Felicity Murray