Milk & Honey duo triumph in search for spontaneous bartenders

Darren Leaney Stephen Tarr Milk & Honey Courvoisier

A team from London’s Milk & Honey bar have been declared the UK’s most spontaneous bartenders after winning a competition with Courvoisier cognac.

Darren Leaney and Stephen Tarr (pictured) triumphed in a challenge where they had to create a cocktail against the clock using ingredients from a mystery hamper, putting their responsiveness and intuitive bartending skills to the test.

The search for the most spontaneous bartenders tied in with Courvoisier’s “Here’s to Now” marketing campaign, which inspires consumers to embrace life in the moment.

The Milk & Honey duo were one of four pre-selected bartender teams of two from leading London bars taking part in the competition held at Paramount in London’s West End.

The others were Daniel Tripp and Bruce Govia from Opium, Alex Gilbert and Ilario Avantaggiati from The Hospital Club, and Gabriele Secolo and Maciek Sawina from Paramount.

In the spirit of spontaneity, a fifth pair, Drew Mallins and Mateusz Swiezakm from Lab Bar, was selected by UK brand ambassador Rebecca Asseline to compete in the final as a wildcard entry.

The teams presented the judging panel with their innovative cocktails served in unique vessels that they were asked to provide for the competition.

Competitors were judged on flavour, presentation, brand knowledge and their ability to make and present their cocktails within the allotted 15-minute timeframe.

Darren and Stephen won with a twist on the classic Between the Sheets, which was inspired by the white peaches and dried lavender found in their mystery hamper. See below for the recipe.

For their prize, the two bartenders will travel to Jarnac in France, the home of Courvoisier, during the harvest season and tour Le Paradis Cellar.

Daniel and Bruce from Opium came a close second with The Drop, made with Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif, fresh basil, lemon juice, Noilly Prat, Byrrh and raspberry syrup served in an Argentinian mate cup with dry ice.

In a second part to the activity, distributor Maxxium UK is running a competition on September 12 in Jarnac where three bartenders will be selected to join a consumer trip and create a serve using the “here and now” for a consumer and also suggest how they might entertain them. The bartenders will be competing for a single ticket to continue on a VIP trip to Paris.

Rebecca said: “We were thoroughly impressed with all of the cocktails these talented teams presented and the final decision made by the judges was not an easy one.

“Each team embraced the challenge and crafted innovative cognac cocktails that highlighted Courvoisier’s aromas and demonstrated their understanding of the brand.

“The on-trade is an important arena for Courvoisier as it’s bartenders that share their passion for the brand with consumers and help grow the category through recruitment. Well done to all our participating bars and a big congratulation to Milk & Honey for its perfectly balanced cocktail.”

Je t’aime à la folie (I love you to the point of madness) by Darren Leaney and Stephen Tarr

50ml Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif
¼ muddled white peach
20ml Lemon juice
15ml Bénédictine
5ml Apricot brandy
5ml Sugar syrup

Combine ingredients and chill down as much as possible, shaking with ice. Decant into a coupette glass and garnish with two dried sprigs of lavender.
milk & honey courvoisier
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