Pros at Tales, Canton and G'Vine Crown Winners and New Spirits

Seats are becoming hard to secure for the Pro-Series Seminars that kick off this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans July 20-24. The series, to be held on July 20, offers nine sessions, including Gina Cheresevani, David Guas and Peter Smith on “Let's Not Sugar Coat It;” “The Menu” with Angus Winchester and Sean Finter; and “Intellectual Property” with Eben Freeman, Riley Lagesen and Sheila Morrison. See the full list of events here.

Domaine de Canton concluded its Bartender of the Year competition, awarding the $10,000 grand prize to Londoner Stuart Fritz, barWinning cocktail manager at the London Academy of Bartenders (LAB). The finals, which took place at La Samanna Luxury Resort and Spa in French St. Martin, consisted of several challenges that measured the contenders’ knowledge, creativity and ability to perform under pressure. Fritz beat out Halle Bruno of Bluepoint Grille, Cleveland; Mathais Simonis of Distil Milwaukee, Milwaukee; Josh Harris of Bon Vivant, San Francisco; and Claire Sprouse of Grand Prize Bar, 1010 Banks, Houston. In addition to the $10,000 prize, Fritz will judge next year’s competition. Previous winners include John Lermayer (2009) and Sean Kenyon (2010). This year's judges included Kenyon; Tobin Ellis, Las Vegas, owner of BarMagic and international bar consultant; New York’s Aisha Sharpe, co-founder of Contemporary Cocktails Inc.; Dushan Zaric, co-owner of NYC’s Employees Only and Macao Trading Co.; and founder and owner of Maurice Cooper et Cie, producer and importer of Domaine de Canton, John Cooper.

Fritz’ winning recipe:
1 teaspoon Benedictine
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice (fresh)
1 2/3 ounces Domaine de Canton
4/5 ounce Champagne
Serve on the rocks with an orange twist around a sprig of thyme.

Meanwhile, in France, G’Vine crowned Gegam Kazarian (Xandom, Alicante, Spain) winner of their best gin bartender competition. Finalists included Jill Saunders (Savoy, London), Terry Cashman (Hoxton Pony, London), Torsten Spuhn (Modern Masters, Erfurt, Germany), René Soffner (Roomers Bar, Frankfurt, Germany), David Gonzalez (Shikku Izakaya, Madrid, Spain), David Wolowidnyk (West, Vancouver, British Columbia), Rob Montgomery (Miller Tavern, Toronto), Michael Pazdon (Solbar, California), Jeff Bell (PDT, N.Y.), Guillaume Ferroni (Chateau Cressauds, Aubaugne, France), Monica Berg (Ice Bar, Oslo, Norway), Glaser Ladislav (Zapa Bar, Prague), Solomon Siegel (Veneto, Victoria, British Columbia) and Javier Ruiz Vera (Cocteleria Lubbock, Barcelona). Michael Parish, of Living Room at the W Hotel in Miami, was named the winner of the first-ever Tequila Partida Spirit Bird South Florida Challenge with his cocktail, the Loco Coco Smash. Second place was awarded to Audrey Levy from Pete’s Café, third place went to Cameron Scholderer from The Mondrian and the consumer-choice vote went to Rich Bagbasarian from Southernmost Resorts. Judges included Partida Brand Ambassador Jacques Bezuidenhout, Chef Cindy Hutson, Co-owner of Ortanique on the Mile Delius Shirley and Pat Sullivan, Wine and Spirits Editor of Dine Magazine.

Curious about why some brands win awards? Ultimate Beverage Challenge (UBC) recently announced the Chairman’s Trophy winners of its 2011 Ultimate Spirits Challenge and launched its Ultimate Video Reviews, a collection of 27 videos featuring F. Paul Pacult extolling the virtues and tasting notes for each of the top 27 spirits. Each video can be found on the UBC Website and the UBC YouTube channel.

The San Francisco Chronicle has named its 2011 Bar Stars: Kevin Diedrich, Burritt Room, Crescent Hotel; Jason “Buffalo” LoGrasso, Quince and Cotogna; Alex Smith, Gitane; Carlo Splendorini, Michael Mina; and Morgan Young, 15 Romolo. Read all about them online.

New brands with some potential bartender impact launching or returning to the United States include Mandarine Napoleon, an Wild Turkeyintensely citrusy liqueur that dates back to the Napoleonic era, which combines mandarins and 10-year-old aged cognac, but has been out of the U.S. market for some time. In 2008, De Kuyper Royal Distillers acquired the liqueur, continuing production in a French abbey. Two separate macerations are used, one with freshly chopped mandarins and another with dried mandarin orange skins. Twenty other botanicals are used in the final production. A new version of Wild Turkey is making the rounds. Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the first whiskey crafted solely by associate distiller Eddie Russell. Wild Turkey 81 uses Wild Turkey’s high-rye mash and oak barrels with a #4 char, the highest level used, resulting in extreme vanilla and caramel flavors that are hallmarks of Wild Turkey. It’s a blend composed primarily of six-, seven- and eight-year-old whiskies. Marnier-Lapostolle has announced the release this fall of Quintessence, the first new expression offered Quintessencehere since the launch of the Cent-Cinquantenaire in 1977. Quintessence features a blend of exceptionally old Cognacs — from 25 to 100 years — sourced exclusively from Grande Champagne. More than 20 lots of different Cognacs are included in the final product. A hallmark of the new marque is a double distillation of the bitter oranges after maceration, creating a velvety and concentrated orange perfume from the same bitter oranges selected for all of the brand’s marques. To create the “double parfum,” orange peels are macerated with the perfume of the first distillation, followed by a second distillation to further refine the flavor. Finally, there's Becherovka, a classic Czech potable bitter now back in the United States courtesy of Pernod-Ricard. There are more than 30 herbs and spices in the mix, notably cinnamon and anise, with hints of vanilla on the round and welcoming palate. Not a challenging amaro-type or bitter, Becherovka is classically paired with beer, as are many Central European schnapps. Becherovka is also quite mixable, and Pernod-Ricard has brought on Tad Carducci to develop recipes for the brand. Only two men are said to currently know the exact ingredient mix and recipe.

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