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Josh Reynolds wins Wild Turkey challenge

Gruppo Campari's Wild Turkey Bourbon has found its 2014 Cocktail Competition Champion in bartender Josh Reynolds from Hawksmoor Spitalfields, who will, along with two runners up win an exclusive trip to Kentucky and New York. 

After searching the length of the country and whittling 200 entrants down to less than 50 for the Regional Heats, 11 finalists battled it out at Manchester's Cane and Grain bar for the title.

The winner, Josh Reynolds' cocktail, aptly named "The Black Feather" was chosen unanimously to clinch the winning prize.  The cocktail combined Punt e Mes and homemade Smoaked Salted Pineapple Syrup as well as the distinct taste of Wild Turkey 81 and demonstrated the exact passion and attention to detail that goes in to creating the perfect Wild Turkey Cocktail.

Of his creation, winner Josh Reynolds said of his achievement: "It's a real honour to have won the Wild Turkey 2014 cocktail competition, particularly as I was up against some of the UK's best bartenders. Wild Turkey is an iconic bourbon; full of integrity, flavour and character, so my cocktail The Black Feather, looked at enhancing the flavours that the deep grade charring of the barrels lends to 81. I focused on the impact that caramel and vanilla has on the actual whiskey, sensing a tropical note and freshness that was pulled through by my homemade smoked salted pineapple syrup and the classical ingredient of Punt e Mes. Simplicity through complexity was a massive factor for me and celebrating the obvious flavours of 81 but in a very charismatic style."

The two runners up, Michael Sharpe of Hyde & Co in Bristol and Ali Reynolds of Hawksmoor Spitalfields in London delivered such a high standard of cocktail craftsmanship that the judges felt some relief in knowing all 3 talented bar tenders would be heading to Kentucky, the home of bourbon.

The exclusive winning trip to Kentucky will see Josh Reynolds, Michael Sharpe and Ali Reynolds, discover the recently opened Wild Turkey Visitor Centre, indulge in a VIP tour and special tasting, before wrapping up with a night in New York City checking out all the best bourbon bars. 

To make Josh Reynolds' winning Wild Turkey cocktail "The Black Feather", you will need;

42.5ml Wild Turkey 81
30ml Punt e Mes
7.5ml homemade smoked salted pineapple syrup

Put all ingredients in a stirring beaker. Add cubed ice, and stir down with bar spoon until desired temperature is reached. Serve straight up in a classic coupette glass and garnish with a discarded lemon zest.

Details of this years finalists who competed in the Final are:

Scotland - Michael Braun of Panda & Sons and Michael Cameron of Guy's Restaurant & Bar
North England - Tim Laferla of Mr Coopers House & Garden and Paul Murphy of Whiskey Business
Midlands - Andy Moran of Boilermaker and Joe Macbeth of The Lacehouse
South West - Richard Tring of Red Light and Michael Sharpe of Hyde & Co
London - Joshua Reynolds and Alistair Reynolds of Hawksmoor Spitalfields and Sam Kershaw of Hawksmoor Guildhall


2 September 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor