Okay, so we’ve arrived at the sixth and last UK heat of The Chivas Masters. And with just one place remaining to be filled in the UK Final our eight bartenders had to be right on top of their game as they set out to show off their cocktail creativity in the very agreeable setting of the amazing new Devil’s Advocate in the heart of Edinburgh.
As with the previous heats the bartenders had a tough task ahead of them. to create four original and very different drinks each featuring Chivas and the key part played by this unique liquid in classic periods in cocktail culture history: The Classic Age, The Post-War Boom, The Disco Years and The Age of Revivalism. The next few hours saw us experiencing an essence of Chivas mist, cocktails to drink on-the-go and bacon foam.
When: 7th May
Where: Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh
Who (Competitors): Emma Andrew, 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh; Will Cox, The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh; Martin Duffy, 56 North, Edinburgh; Terence Hann, Bar Kohl, Edinburgh; Jon Hughes, Bramble, Edinburgh; Alex Lawrence, Orchid, Aberdeen; David
Littlejohn, 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh; Ryan Rhodes, Orchid,
Aberdeen. (Judges): Phil Huckle, Brand Ambassador, Pernod Ricard UK Prestige; Jody Monteith, Director, The Liquorists; The Cocktail Lovers
Ryan Rhodes from Orchid in Aberdeen set the tone of quality for the day with his very first drink which was a take on the Clover Club. For this he produced his own Lucky 13 Club (Chivas 12, Cocchi
Americano, cardamon, cinnamon, caster sugar, fresh pineapple, lemon juice and egg white). Looking to evoke the affluence of the The Classic Age he not only produced an elegant drink but dressed it in a swatch of Prince of Wales check fabric as a grand, sartorial finishing touch.
Next up was Terence Hann from Bar Kohl, the first of the Edinburgh contingent. For The Age of Revivalism his drink The People’s
Republic of China (Chivas-infused green tea, ginger, rice wine
vinegar, egg white and honey syrup) played on the reputed health properties of its ingredients, such as the youth- enhancing effects of honey and the protein found in egg whites. While we can’t vouch for his claims the glass tea pot and cups along with fragrant flowers made for a refined looking serve, while the drink delivered delicate flavours which worked a treat, healthy or not.
Will Cox from The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh, then stepped up. The theme running through all four of Will’s drinks was a combination of simplicity and exquisite attention to detail, particularly evident in both The Post-War Boom and The Age of
Revivalism. With the former, based on a Red Snapper, he imagined what the Rat Pack might drink the morning after a big night out with his Bloody Battle (Chivas 12, Byrrh, lemon juice, tomato, blood orange, Lea & Perrins, Tabasco – see
picture, top). At this stage it was already a nicely judged drink but the finishing mist (an intense Chivas 12 reduction) with which he sprayed it really upped the experience, creating a distinct, extremely intoxicating aroma which evoked the very spirit of Chivas itself.
Similarly his fourth drink, Master Of My Own Domain (Chivas 12, Amer Picon, Spiced Pineapple Syrup with cumin and cardamom and homemade luxury bitters) forThe Age of Revivalism evoked the luxury of Chivas history. Again it was all about the finishing touch, this time with the addition of the luxury bitters, made from black tea, saffron, coffee, vanilla and cocoa, which could be added to suit the drinker’s personal taste.
Approaching the half-way stage was Emma Andrew from 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, who displayed her eye for detail both
visually and in her choice of ingredients (such as homemade
raspberry ice and foraged heather). Both these elements came
together well in her second drink for The Post-War Boom with
Message In A Bottle (Chivas 12, homemade orgeat syrup,
homemade falernum and orange juice). A rich and smooth drink it really showcased the Chivas while also introducing an element of fun by wrapping the bottle in which it was served in brown paper to evoke memories of the Prohibition era.
Martin Duffy from 56 North, Edinburgh, brought a very personal touch to all of his drinks as he traced his family history and created a cocktail for four members to enjoy after a day’s work. We were
introduced to The Publican, The Policeman and The Engineer, while with the final drink Martin spoke about himself in the form of The Bartender (Chivas 12, Chivas sugar syrup, celery shrub and orange twist). It was this final drink for The Age of Revivalism that cleverly brought to life the speed and convenience of modern living with a cocktail to drink on-the-go – shaken and served in coffee shop-style plastic cups complete with lids.
Jon Hughes from Bramble,
Edinburgh, was also something of a storyteller, this time though with flights of fancy as he imagined places from the
various periods where his
cocktails might have been
consumed. But what really marked out Jon’s drinks was their sheer elegance; simple, beautifully put together, easy on the eye and simply delicious. Take his second drink for
The Post-War Boom. Here he drew his inspiration from the Sidecar and the Negroni, imagining a cocktail that would have been enjoyed by the admen of Madison Avenue in New York and Fitzrovia in
London, in the form of an Old-Fashioned. The result was the
Madison and Fitzroy (Chivas 12, Fernet Blanca and Cointreau) which was every inch a classic in both looks and taste.
The penultimate bartender was another from Orchid in
Aberdeen, Alex Lawrence. Each of Alex’s drinks demonstrated a
sensitive feel for the character of Chivas, particularly the finishing touch for his creation for The Classic Age, The Honourable (Chivas 12, lemon syrup, Martini Extra Dry and homemade bitters), for which he barrel-aged vodka making an atmospheric oak essence with which to spray the glass.
Rounding up a very full day came David Littlejohn of 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh. Clearly a man who was enjoying the whole
experience he treated us to a hip flask serve, a clever two-tone disco drink and bacon foam. The last of these forming an integral
ingredient for The Age of Revivalism with Pop and Pulled Pork (Chivas 12, lemon juice, popcorn syrup with Absolut, smokey bacon foam), a drink which cleverly balanced sweet and smokey elements but which still positioned Chivas as the star of the show.
The winner and the judges reaction
This was one of the closest heats and there were only a handful of points separating the top three places, but just edging it was Will Cox from The Bon Vivant. Coming a very close second was Jon Hughes from Bramble. Summing up the day and the choice of
winner Jody Monteith, Director of The Liquorists, said, “When you come to Edinburgh you always know the standard is going to be great but today I thought all of the bartenders were phenomenal. Over all four of the categories Will scored exceptionally highly. He understood the brief and he delivered. And along with Jon they both showed that they are real masters of their craft.” We agree. For us both Will and Jon demonstrated an incredible depth of passion, knowledge and skill, all combining to create exception cocktails.
A word from the winner
“There was a great standard today and the presentations were
fantastic. It’s also nice that a Scottish brand like Chivas shows
Scottish bartenders really making their mark. As for me,
I thoroughly planned today and I tried to feel like I was actually
behind my own bar. And to be the final is amazing, I really didn’t think I’d be there!”
Will’s winning drinks
The Classic Age:
King Street Crusta
50ml Chivas 12
10ml Grapefruit Oleo Saccharum
5 dashes homemade barrel-aged bitters
Garnished with homemade cherry sherbet and a grapefruit peel
Shake all ingredients and strain into goblet with ice block and grapefruit and sherbet crusted rim.
35ml Chivas 12
35ml blood orange
85ml tomato juice
15ml Lea & Perrins
Salt and pepper
4 Dashes Tabasco
Garnished with Chivas Age Essence
Throw ingredients with ice until chilled, strain into coupe and spray with Chivas Age Essence.
Royal Breakfast Flip
50ml banana infused Chivas 12 and 18 Blend
20ml blueberry purée
2g pistachio paste
5ml Maple Syrup
1 dash barrel-aged bitters
Garnished with maple and sesame bacon and banana chips
Shake all ingredients and fine strain into crystal teacup. Garnish with blueberries, banana chips and maple and sesame bacon
Age of Revivalism:
Master of My Own Domain
40ml Chivas 12
10ml Amer Picon
5ml spiced pineapple syrup (cumin and cardamom)
5 drops homemade luxury bitters
Stir all ingredients and strain into a small cocktail glass
56 North fiftysixnorth.co.uk
99 Hanover Street 99hanoverstreet.com
Bar Kohl barkohl.co.uk
The Bon Vivant bonvivantedinburgh.co.uk
Devil’s Advocate devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk