Bartenders win trip to Saint Lucia in Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai challenge

Milk Mai Tai

Two bartenders from Milk in Reading will be taken on a trip to St Lucia in the Caribbean after their bar won this year’s Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai Campaign.

The Milk team of Connie Cain and Andy Turner faced four other finalist bars at an event in London where they each served up their own Mai Tai serves to the public and VIP judges.

The winning serve, Pearl of the Caribbean (pictured), combined Chairman’s Reserve Spiced and Gold rums with the bar’s special shrub made from spiced rum, fig, lime peels, almonds, orange flower water and red wine vinegar. See below for the full recipe.

It followed a challenge run by the rums’ UK distributor Emporia Brands around the UK throughout July and August. Bars promoted their own twists on the classic Mai Tai cocktail using two expressions of Chairman’s Reserve, aiming to win a place in the final five.

The other four finalists at this week’s event at The Magic Roundabout in London were last year’s winner Alvinos of Newcastle upon Tyne plus Colonel Porter’s in Newcastle upon Tyne, Ten Mill Lane in Cardiff and the wildcard entry, Panda & Sons in Edinburgh.

As winners, the pair from Milk will be rewarded later this year with a training visit to St Lucia – the home of the rum – as part of the ongoing Chairman’s XI engagement programme.

The trip will include a visit to the distillery, a training session with local bartenders, a celebration in the seaside village of Gros Islet, a day out on a catamaran and being judges in a local Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai competition alongside a guest shift at the event.

Pearl of the Caribbean
35ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
20ml Chairman’s Reserve Gold
15ml Fresh lime juice
35ml Milk shrub no 2*
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake and strain over crushed ice in an up-cycled food tin. Garnish with a thyme sprig, dehydrated lime and desiccated coconut.

*Shrub recipe
200ml Caster sugar
175ml Cold water
Whole fig in eighths
2 big lime peels
50ml Crushed almonds
25ml Chairman’s Reserve Spiced
15ml Orange flower water
50ml Red wine vinegar
Bring the sugar and water to boil, dissolving the sugar fully. Add the fig pieces and lime peel and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and add the crushed almonds. Bring back to the boil and simmer for two minutes. Add the Chairman’s Spiced and orange flower water. Simmer for one minute. Add the red wine vinegar. Simmer for another minute and leave it to cool slightly before filtering it through a coffee filter.

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