A cocktail combining tequila with a shrub made with camomile and yuzu helped Chinese bartender Li Tong win the global final of the Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition.
Her homemade shrub was combined with Patrón Reposado, yellow Chartreuse, Monin Passion Fruit Syrup, lime and soda water to create Dancing Bees.
Tong, who works at Lotus Lounge in Guangzhou in southern China, was crowned winner at Hacienda Patrón in Jalisco in Mexico where she competed in the semi-final against bartenders from 15 other countries.
The others included UK winner Greg Almeida, head bartender at Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London hotel, who was also one of the six bartenders to make it through to the final alongside Tong.
It followed months of national heats around the world in a competition that challenges bartenders to create a cocktail that reflects the passion, precision and care that goes into making ultra-premium Patrón Tequila.
The other four to reach the final were David Robinson of Hot Tamale in Darwin in Australia, Tim Devriendt of The Cobbler in Ghent in Belgium, Jin Woo-Lee of The Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul in South Korea, and Omer Gazit of 223 Cocktail Bar in Tel Aviv in Israel.
The judges in the final were Patrón’s chief marketing officer Lee Applbaum, Patrón’s director of operation David Rodriguez, Simon Difford of Difford’s Guide, and Stephanie Quiles, editor of the Buena Mesa food and drink section of Guadalajara’s newspaper Mural.
Lee said: “The pursuit of perfection is core to the Patrón brand and is a concept that resonates with the world’s best bartenders. This year, Patrón Perfectionists welcomed over 1,200 entrants from around the world, bringing a new, diverse range of talent to the competition’s third anniversary, making the selection of a winner incredibly difficult.
“Each competitor brought their own, personal interpretation of perfection, while demonstrating the unmatched versatility of Patrón Tequila. Li Tong demonstrates every dimension of the Patrón Perfectionists vision and is a worthy victor. I’m excited to see how she shares that vision both at home in China and throughout the world as our Perfectionists champion.”
Tong added: “The competition has been amazing – I have met a lot of new friends and learnt a lot during the journey. The Patrón Perfectionists Cocktail Competition has been so exciting. I’ve been dreaming about seeing real agave and my dream has come true.
“I’m so excited to have won, and can’t wait to go back to China and tell my family. Perfection comes from the heart: it’s passion and it’s doing what we love. Winning the competition has given me so much confidence to keep going and do something special as a bartender.”
After reaching the final with his cocktail The Endless Journey, Greg said: “Being a part of the Patrón Perfectionists journey has been an absolute honour. I have met some of the most incredible people and I’m really proud of what we all did this week. Hats off to Li Tong, she is a legend!”
Dancing Bees by Li Tong
60ml Patrón Reposado tequila
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
20ml Camomile yuzu shrub (several pinches of dried camomile, 200ml yuzu puree, 200g sugar, 50ml, apple cider vinegar, 200ml water)
15ml Monin Passion Fruit Syrup
30ml Lime juice
Place all ingredients except the soda water in a Boston shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. Top with soda water.
The Endless Journey by Greg Almeida
35ml Patrón Reposado tequila
10ml Mole extract
2 dashes Vanilla bitters
60ml Jasmine and almond horchata
Garnish: Grated nutmeg
Place all ingredients into a mixing glass and mix through a “Cuban roll” from glass to shaker. Pour into a chilled wooden cup with no ice. Top with grated nutmeg.