Paul Lougrat from High Water in London is to represent the UK in Paris after winning the national final of a cocktail competition run by Courvoisier cognac.
He was announced as UK winner of the third annual Toast of Paris International Cocktail Competition after facing six other bartenders at the final at Artesian bar at The Langham hotel in London. He is pictured above with the judges.
It was a culmination of regional heats in Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and London, where bartenders were challenged to create two Courvoisier-based cocktails – one using coffee and the other inspired by Paris’s Belle Epoque period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Paul’s winning coffee cocktail, Fleur de Café (pictured above), combined Courvoisier VSOP with Branca Menta, Laphroaig whisky, honey and coffee syrup while his Belle Epoque cocktail (pictured below) was a mix of Courvoisier VSOP, white rhum agricole, vermouth, amontillado sherry, crème de figue liqueur and walnut bitters.
For the first time in the competition, they were judged not just on skill, innovation and flavour but on how Instagrammable the finished drink looked, acknowledging “the role of the modern bartender in providing experiences to cocktail drinkers beyond the serve”.
The UK finalists faced a judging panel comprising leading cocktail historian and writer Anistatia Miller, Courvoisier global brand ambassador Rebecca Asseline and Sandrae Lawrence of The Cocktail Lovers who are pictured top with Paul.
Paul will travel to Paris to compete in the grand final against four other national finalists from France, Germany, Austria and Italy. Rebecca will again be on the judging panel, alongside legendary bartender Salvatore Calabrese and Courvoisier’s master blender, Patrice Pinet.
From Paris, all the finalists will travel to Jarnac in Cognac where they will spend the night at Château Courvoisier and enjoy a gala dinner and tour of the historic paradis cellar.
The overall winner will also receive the prize of a bespoke blend of Courvoisier, crafted by Patrice and presented in an engraved, crystal decanter. Courvoisier will also contribute $4,000 (£2,800) to the winner to support their future career development and continuous education.
Paul, who is head bartender at High Water in Stoke Newington, said: “It has been amazing to be a part of this competition. Everyone – from hosts to competitors – were amazing, so I am really proud to be representing the UK in Paris. Thanks for this opportunity.”
The other UK finalists were Mike Canham, Daniel Winters, Nathaniel Hampton, Clare Morrow, Hadrian Haumont and Michael Mclellan, pictured below.
Rebecca added: “All of the UK competitors should be delighted with their performance. It was really tough deciding who our UK finalist was going to be this year, but we really felt Paul Lougrat excelled – totally encapsulating everything that the competition is about.”