Marco (pictured), from London’s Lab bar, took home £1,000 and a 21-year-old bottle of El Dorado Rum after his Pina CoLager and The Bounty Hunter cocktails impressed the judges.
The hard-fought contest was held at The Liar’s Club in Manchester and organised by Coco Lopez’s UK distributor Bennett Opie and El Dorado Rum in association with blender specialist Hamilton Beach.
The award for best twisted Piña Colada on the day was won by Ami St Claire (pictured below) of former Newcastle upon Tyne bar Popolo for her drink, Mr Pineapple Head, with the prize of a Hamilton Beach blender.
The other finalists were Max Venning from 69 Colebrooke Row in London, Elliot Berriman from Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn in Manchester, Sunny Wray from The Liar’s Club in Manchester, Alex Dusmet from London Cocktail Club in London, Rebecca Pringle from The Laundrette in Manchester, Chris Mosey from Hula in Manchester and Dan Warren from Merkaba in Brighton.
Coco Lopez brand ambassador James Coston, who hosted the competition, said: “Marco Piroli was a very worthy winner on the day. His Pina CoLager really impressed the judges, with its inventive addition of a beer reduction to the classic piña colada flavours of pineapple and coconut.
“His The Bounty Hunter was another big crowd pleaser; a perfectly-balanced combination of rum, chocolate, vanilla, rum and coconut – what’s not to love?”
Stef Holt, brand ambassador for El Dorado Rums, said: “The competitors this year were all incredible. The amount of creativity in their drinks and presentation makes this comp the most exciting and fun one to judge.
“When done properly, the Piña Colada is one of the simplest and tastiest classic drinks and it was great to see it twisted in so many original ways.”
The judging panel included the 2013 Coco Lopez Cocktail Challenge champion Jake Burger from London bar Portobello Star along with Tom Sneesby of consultancy The Liquorists, Stef Holt and Andy Ives of BarlifeUK.
James said: “All the finalists performed well but there were some particularly inspired presentations that demonstrated wit, creativity and sheer brilliance.
“Chris Mosey’s Pot of Gold cocktail being stolen by a ‘Leprechaun’ was hilarious, and Sunny Wray turned in an amazing performance with his version of a home cooking show.”
The nine finalists had each submitted two drinks to the competition. One had to be a twisted Piña Colada containing Coco Lopez and either three-year-old or five-year-old El Dorado Rum, and had to be blended with a Hamilton Beach Tempest.
The other was a cocktail of their choice, although it had to contain at least 20ml of Coco Lopez and, again, the three- or five-year-old El Dorado Rum.
Coco Lopez is the only cream of coconut produced by hand, using coconuts harvested in the Dominican Republic and blending the coconut cream with natural cane sugar. It is believed that Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut was created in the 1950s by Don Ramon Lopez Irizarry and that the product sparked the success of the Piña Colada cocktail.
El Dorado rums are made in Guyana from 100% Demerara sugar cane and distributed in the UK by Love Drinks.
Pina CoLager by Marco Piroli
40ml El Dorado 5 Year Old
20ml Coco Lopez
15ml Coconut liqueur
20ml Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak-Aged Beer
30ml Pineapple juice
3 chunks of pineapple
10ml fresh lime juice
1 pinch of salt
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Blend all the ingredients together, serve in a Hurricane glass and garnish with a cherry, lime flair and a pineapple chunk soaked in an Innis & Gunn beer reduction.
The Bounty Hunter by Marco Piroli
40ml El Dorado 3 Year Old
20ml Coco Lopez
15ml White Mozart chocolate liqueur
5ml Mozart Dry chocolate spirit
3 dashes of Aztec Chocolate Bitters
3 dashes of Bob’s Vanilla Bitters
Shake all the ingredients, double-strain in a rocks glass and garnish with coconut flakes on the rim and a mini Bounty chocolate bar on the glass edge.
Mr Pineapple Head by Amy St Claire
5 chunks of pineapple marinated in vanilla pods, cinnamon, bay leaves, a touch of nutmeg and dried hibiscus
30ml Pineapple marinade juice
30ml Freshly pressed pineapple juice
40ml Coco Lopez
50ml El Dorado 5 Year Old
30g Homemade coconut and caramel fudge
Blend and serve in a hollowed out pineapple with all the body parts of Mr Potato Head – wearing sunglasses, holding an umbrella in one hand and a Bennett Opie cocktail cherry in the other.