Rum twist on a Negroni wins barrel-aged cocktail challenge

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A twist on a Negroni led to Dario Cavaliere from London restaurant Pitt Cue triumphing in a competition challenging bartenders to create a barrel-aged cocktail with Mezan rum.

He created the Rum Cherie, combining Antica Formula vermouth and Mondino Amaro with chocolate bitters and Mezan Jamaican XO Rum, aged together in the barrel. He is pictured with Bruce Perry and Amanda Baxter of Mezan’s distributor Marussia Beverages.

Dario and Pitt Cue’s co-founder, Jamie Berger, won the chance to be taken by Marussia Beverages to Paris for the Cocktails Spirits show which is on June 5 and 6.

They will also be the stars of a guest shift on Monday June 5 at Le Ballroom du Beefclub whose bartenders Tarek Nini and Adrian Niño won the French final of a similar Mezan Barrel Challenge for Parisian bars. Click here for details of their guest shift event. Pitt Cue will host the winning French team during Imbibe Live in London in July.

For the London competition, Marussia Beverages partnered five top London bars by giving them two five-litre new French oak barrels each for creating a barrel-aged cocktail with Mezan rums over a six-week period.

At 5cc cocktail bar at the Well & Bucket in Shoreditch, they created the Jamaican in New York – a Caribbean twist on a Manhattan using Jamaican Dragon Stout, sorrel, clove, Angostura Bitters, Bittermens Burlesque Bitters and Mezan Jamaican XO Rum, garnished with a grapefruit twist.

At Burlock off Oxford Street, they developed a deconstructed classic, the Corn ‘n’ Oil, aged in a solera system between barrels and a copper kettle. It combined Mezan Jamaican XO Rum and Mezan 2006 Panama Rum with spent gin botanicals, clove, lime peel and oleo saccharum. It was put in the two casks – one was heat treated in the oven, the other finished with Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Mezan Forte created by Kansas Smitty’s in Hackney was designed to be a punchy drink that played on the rum’s flavours and local notes including a grapefruit liqueur made in Bethnal Green. It mixed the Stellacello Pompelmo liqueur with concentrated lapsang souchong tea, dried banana, tonka beans, kaffir lime, milk oolong tea and grapefruit peel with Mezan Jamaican XO Rum, served in a mini julep tin with a fresh kaffir lime leaf and grapefruit wedge garnish.

Merchant House devised Shaddock’s Odyssey, inspired by the story of a legendary Captain Shaddock who traded between Asia and Jamaica in the 17th century and allegedly brought the first grapefruit seeds to the Caribbean. It is made with sage bitters, lapsang souchong bitters, peach-infused Cocchi Americano, grapefruit peel and Beavertown Neck Oil IPA, mixed with Mezan Jamaican XO Rum.

The UK final was held at TT Liquor in Shoreditch where guests tried all five cocktails and voted in a secret ballot for the bar they felt deserved to be the winner.

The Mezan range comprises Jamaica XO, Panama 2006 and Trinidad 1999, made with rums selected from legendary distilleries, some of which are no longer in operation. They are unsweetened, uncoloured, saved from chill-filtering and aged in ex-bourbon casks.

Pictured below are all the competitors. Pictures by Lucie England-Duce.

Mezan competitors

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