Bartender Jonathan Arthur of Edinburgh’s Bramble Bar & Lounge has won the place to represent the UK in Courvoisier’s Toast of Paris international cocktail competition.
Along with winners from Canada, Germany, France and Austria, he will compete for the top prize of a bespoke blend of Courvoisier presented in an engraved crystal decanter when they come together at the event, “Le Jour et la Nuit de Courvoisier”, on May 16 in Paris. Jonathan is pictured with Courvoisier’s global ambassador, Rebecca Asseline.
The annual Courvoisier Toast of Paris competition challenges the world’s top bartenders to push the boundaries of the cognac category and capture the exuberance of the Paris Golden Age from 1870 to 1910 through the art of modern cocktail making.
Bartenders were challenged to create one of two unique Courvoisier cocktails: an aperitif-style drink that has a low ABV and encapsulates the Parisian lifestyle and culture of brasseries and cafés, or a cocktail inspired by the Parisian nightlife that captures “la joie de vivre”.
For his entry, Jonathan created the Demi-Monde, combining Courvoisier VSOP with Pedro Ximénez sherry and Peychaud’s Bitters plus a spray of smoky full-bodied Laphroaig 10 Year Old whisky and garnished with a maraschino cherry stuffed with a dark chocolate-coated coffee bean.
For the UK final, his drink was Reunion, mixing the cognac with absinthe herbal wine Absentroux plus Suze herbal liqueur and the flavours of celery, cucumber, caraway and fennel. See below for the recipes.
Held at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar in London, the UK final featured a panel of high-profile judges including cocktail pioneer Tony Conigliaro, the Beaufort Bar’s head bartender Kyle Wilkinson and Rebecca Asseline.
The other UK finalists were Luca Rapetti from the Donovan Bar in London, Sofia Pinckard from The Wilderness in Manchester, Alex Godfrey from Red Light in Bristol and Iscia Crenn from The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh.
Jonathan and the other international finalists will also travel to the Courvoisier Chateau in Jarnac, France, and visit the centuries-old paradis cellar to meet Courvoisier master blender Patrice Pinet.
Rebecca said: “Jonathan entered the competition with Demi-Monde representing Parisian nightlife. At the UK final he also presented Reunion, his interpretation of an aperitif-style drink. Not only was his cocktail perfectly balanced, but his knowledge of cognac and Courvoisier and the story behind his drink is what captivated the judging panel.”
Maxxium UK’s Beam Brands marketing controller Johna Penman added: “All of the competing UK bartenders have been on an amazing Courvoisier journey starting with immersive masterclasses followed by regional heats and then a special evening before the competition that included a bar tour and dinner at Balthazar with special guest Brian Silva.
“As Courvoisier remains the UK’s number-one cognac in the on-trade, Maxxium UK is dedicated to investing in education and engagement.”
The other national winners heading to Paris are Sarah Deuss from Guts & Glory in Karlsruhe for Germany, Dominik Oswald from Hammond Bar in Vienna representing Austria, André Rigaud Da Silva from Fat Cat in Toulouse for France and Mike Jordhoy from Brix and Mortar in Vancouver representing Canada.
Courvoisier has contributed to cognac growth and now accounts for 68.3% of the category’s on-trade volume in the UK. Courvoisier’s VSOP UK value sales saw 39.9% growth in the 12 weeks to February 25 according to CGA Research figures.
Demi-Monde by Jonathan Arthur (pictured above)
60ml Courvoisier VSOP
12.5ml Colosia Pedro Ximénez sherry
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Spray of Laphroaig 10 Year Old
Stir on cubed ice, strain into a chilled goblet rinsed with Laphroaig 10. Garnish with a maraschino cherry stuffed with a dark chocolate-coated coffee bean.
Reunion by Jonathan Arthur (pictured below)
30ml Courvoisier VSOP
2 dashes Celery, cucumber and caraway tincture
15ml Lemon juice
12.5ml Fennel syrup
Shake and double strain into a rocks glass over a block of ice. Garnish with a fennel sprig.