Edinburgh bartender Jonny Gausinet is off to San Francisco with No 209 Gin after winning a national competition seeking the best barrel-aged cocktails.
Jonny (pictured below), who works at The Bon Vivant restaurant and bar in Thistle Street, was inspired by the Spanish heritage of San Francisco, where No 209 Gin is made on Pier 50, and his own Spanish roots.
His drink, 5/0 on the Pier (pictured top), mixed the gin with Spanish verdejo wine plus a home-made candied orange liqueur, Hallands Fläder elderflower aquavit and citric acid.
UK distributor Hi-Spirits, which organised the competition, supplied small oak barrels to all bartenders who were shortlisted after members of its team visited each entrant’s bar to taste the unaged cocktails.
Jonny chose to flush his barrel out on a daily basis and then aged his cocktail for 209 hours in different environments such as next to the pastry oven and in the keg room. This made the drink more rounded, slightly lighter and more well-balanced.
Jonny’s prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to San Francisco, including a VIP visit to the No 209 Distillery, later this year. He said: “It was fascinating to barrel-age the No 209 Gin and see how the oak flavours changed the cocktail.
“I was quite daunted by the high standards set by the other finalists. It’s a real honour to have won and I’m now looking forward to visiting the home of No 209 Gin.”
He was one of 10 bartenders chosen to travel to London for the final held at Demon, Wise & Partners in the City. They presented both the unaged and aged versions of their drinks to a judging panel comprising bartender and gin specialist Leon Dalloway, cocktail expert Paul de Newtown of Hi-Spirits, and Bar magazine editor Mark Ludmon.
In a closely fought competition, second place went to the 3rd St cocktail created by Chris Bellingham of The Kenilworth in Warwickshire, while third was Rob Wood of Le Truc bar and bistro in Birmingham, who served up his Lucky Lindy cocktail.
Paul said: “All the finalists were of a very high standard and there were only a handful of points separating the top three when we added up our scores. They had all thought very carefully about the way barrel-ageing mellows the fresh, citrus flavour notes of No 209 Gin, and the fact that Hi-Spirits initially had over 100 entries demonstrates the calibre of cocktail-making skills in the UK.”
Also among the finalists was Paolo Tonellotto of Demon, Wise & Partners, who said: “It was a very enjoyable event. This is the first competition we’ve hosted since we opened in March this year, and we were very pleased to welcome our fellow professionals.”
5/0 on the Pier by Jonny Gausinet
45ml No 209 Gin
15ml Verdejo wine
15ml Home-made candied orange liqueur
10ml Hallands Fläder elderflower aquavit
3ml Citric acid solution
Combine the ingredients and age for 209 days in an oak barrel. Garnish with a small melon ball and serrano ham on a cocktail stick.
The 3rd St by Chris Bellingham
45ml No 209 Gin
15 Chinese aromatised rice wine
2 dashes Five Spice Bitters
Stir the ingredients with ice and strain. Put the liquid in an oak barrel that has been seasoned for 21 days with dessert wine. Age in an oak barrel for 144 days in a cool place. Serve with Fernet Branca and ginger ale sorbet on a bamboo tray with mandarin fog.
The Lucky Lindy by Rob Wood
45ml No 209 Gin
20ml RinQuinQuin à la Pêche
15ml Edmond Briottet apricot liqueur
3 dashes Citrus bitters blend
Stir with a large block of ice and strain. Pour the liquid into an oak barrel that has been seasoned with tokaji wine. Age for seven days. Serve in a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a fancy lemon zest.