Massimo Zitti (pictured) of Manchester bar Cane & Grain has been named Funkin Innovation Champion to work on a paid part-time basis developing new ideas for cocktails.
He is taking on the role at cocktail ingredients specialist Funkin after winning the final of a competition against four other leading bartenders: Michael Stringer of BlackLeaf Events, Joe Macbeth of Rub Smokehouse & Bar in Nottingham, James Le Gallez of Apéritif on Guernsey, and Róbert Kecskés of Chez Chow in London.
The event at The Cocktail Trading Co bar in London saw the introduction of the latest addition to Funkin’s small-batch syrup range, FunkinPro Citric Syrup. Without any advance notice, the five finalists were challenged to create a cocktail using the new ingredient with a £40 budget and 20 minutes to comb the streets of Soho.
The finalists also had to present their ideas for the next big cocktail ingredient along with an original Funkin cocktail that reflected the company’s innovative approach using any product from the FunkinPro range.
The judges, including Andy Mil of The Cocktail Trading Co, were faced with a tough choice but picked Massimo’s innovative Trade Cobbler, made with FunkinPro Citric Syrup, and Kind of Cool which used FunkinPro Passionfruit Purée. See below for his recipes.
Massimo said: “I like entering competitions because I love the adrenaline and the confidence it gives you, but this year I’ve been focusing on creating drinks and writing cocktail lists. It was the idea of innovation that made me want to enter the Funkin Innovation Champion competition.
“Funkin is really accessible and practical. The range contains lots of different flavours and is always growing. It allows bartenders to play with drinks and be creative and I’m excited to bring my ideas to the table.”
Funkin managing director Andrew King, pictured below with Massimo, added: “We had an exciting day as bartenders were put to the test and challenged to create an innovative cocktail using a brand new product, FunkinPro Citric Syrup.
“Cocktail innovation is at the heart of everything we do, so we were pleased to see the level of creativity that was put into their cocktails and hear about what they felt was going to be the next big cocktail trend.
“Massimo showed exceptional understanding of our products and how they work in cocktails and we were intrigued by his range of flavoured salt solutions. We are excited to welcome Massimo to the Funkin team and look forward to bringing the next wave of innovation to the on-trade.”
Trade Cobbler by Massimo Zitti
40ml Moroccan mint tea blended with dry port
20ml Plantation 5 Year Old rum
20ml Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum
20ml Fresh lime juice
10ml Funkin Sugarcane Syrup
10ml FunkinPro Citric Syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
5 drops sea salt solution
Shake all ingredients on ice and single strain on crushed ice in a metal tin. Garnish with a rose dusted with icing sugar and a mint sprig and serve with white chocolate squares.
Kind of Cool by Massimo Zitti
40ml Spanish white rum
40ml Homemade almond half and half
25ml FunkinPro Passionfruit Purée
20ml Homemade port and black cardamom liqueur
20ml Pineapple spiced butter syrup
10ml Funkin Sugarcane Syrup
5 drops Lactofermented fig salt solution
Shake everything on ice. Single strain into a glass pot and serve on ice. Garnish with a cheese cloth with a musical note dusted on top with cocoa powder.