Edinburgh bartender wins international Courvoisier competition

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Jonathan Arthur of Edinburgh’s Bramble Bar & Lounge has been named international winner in Courvoisier’s Toast of Paris cocktail competition.

Pictured above, he faced other national winners from Canada, Germany, France and Austria at the final, “Le Jour et la Nuit de Courvoisier”, at Secret Gallery in Paris on May 16. See below for his winning recipes.

He won a bespoke blend of Courvoisier, presented in an engraved crystal decanter. After the competition, all the finalists travelled to Jarnac in south-west France to visit the Courvoisier Chateau.

They met Courvoisier master blender Patrice Pinet and were treated to a masterclass conducted by American bartender Zahra Bates. They also received insight into the product process for the brand, going on a distillery tour and visiting the centuries-old paradis cellar.

The other national winners through to the international final were André Rigaud Da Silva from Fat Cat in Toulouse for France, Dominik Oswald from Hammond Bar in Vienna for Austria, Mike Jordhoy from Brix & Mortar in Vancouver for Canada and Sarah Deuss from Guts & Glory in Karlsruhe for Germany.

During the competition, bartenders were challenged to create two unique Courvoisier cocktails – an aperitif-style drink that has a low ABV and encapsulates the Parisian lifestyle and culture of brasseries and cafés, and a cocktail inspired by the Parisian nightlife that captures “la joie de vivre”.

Jonathan’s Réunion aperitif and Demi-Monde nightlife cocktails impressed the panel of high-profile judges in Paris, which included renowned bartender Salvatore Calabrese, Courvoisier global ambassador Rebecca Asseline and cognac ambassador David Boileau from producers’ body, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac.

Rebecca said: “Jonathan’s drinks are perfectly balanced and I’m completely in love with his interpretation of an aperitif-style drink, Réunion. It’s clear that he understands the cognac category and demonstrated his knowledge of Courvoisier through the story behind his drink. The judges were captivated.”

Jonathan explains: “Réunion is based around the light, savoury style of drink you would have to cleanse the palate and prepare you for an evening meal. The tinctures and herbs contained in the Suze and Absentroux would have been used to aid with digestion. The name is to celebrate the coming together of family and friends after the working day is over.

“I wanted to create something a bit off the usual tack of what I thought the others might do. You don’t tend to see aperitif-style drinks with cognac, so I wanted the drink to be bright and use French ingredients. This experience has been awesome.”

The annual Courvoisier Toast of Paris International Cocktail 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.

Maxxium UK’s Beam brands marketing controller, Johna Penman, said: “We are very proud of Jonathan and his accomplishments. This year, the competition was tough and we are thrilled to take home the win.

“Jonathan’s Courvoisier journey will continue throughout the year as he will be involved in selected activations for the brand as we continue to support the UK’s number-one cognac.”

Courvoisier has contributed to cognac growth and now accounts for 67.2% of the category’s on-trade volume in the UK. Courvoisier’s VSOP UK value sales also saw 32.5% growth in the 12 weeks to March 25, 2017, according to figures from research specialist CGA Strategy.

Demi-Monde by Jonathan Arthur
60ml Courvoisier VSOP
12.5ml Colosia Pedro Ximénez Sherry
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Laphroaig 10 Year Old whisky (spray)
Stir the Courvoisier, sherry and bitters on cubed ice and strain into a chilled goblet rinsed with the Laphroaig. Garnish with a maraschino cherry stuffed with a dark chocolate-coated coffee bean.

Réunion by Jonathan Arthur
30ml Courvoisier VSOP
12.5ml Absentroux
2.5ml Suze
2 dashes Celery, cucumber and caraway tincture
15ml Lemon juice
12.5ml Fennel syrup
Shake and double-strain. Serve in a rocks glass with block ice. Garnish with a fennel sprig.

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