He triumphed in the UK final of the Grey Goose Le Rendez-Vous cocktail competition at The Gilbert Scott at London’s St Pancras Renaissance Hotel to win a place in the global final at the end of September.
Each finalist was required to present their version of a classic Martini using no more than five ingredients, two of which had to be Grey Goose and Noilly Prat vermouth, to judges Gary Sharpen of The Cocktail Lovers and Chris Moore, head bartender of The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy in London.
The other bartenders, all from London, were Pie Panah of Electric House, Alan Cartolano of Dabbous, Andreas Cortes of Claridges, Walter Pintus of the Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, Dav Eames of The Gilbert Scott and Rudi Carraro of the Artesian Bar at The Langham Hotel.
The stopwatch was set at three minutes for each presentation and cocktails included Pie’s twist on a dirty Martini, called Torshi, which means “pickle” in Persian, and Alan’s Soft Martini, a sweet and nutty-flavoured serve which played on the softness of Japanese baby peaches.
Andreas demonstrated his knowledge of the provenance of Grey Goose with his Garçon D’oie serve, and Walter was inspired by the brand’s founder Sidney Frank to make a more aromatic version of a dry Martini with his Sir Frank Martini.
Nathan took the judges on a journey with his Two Sides to Every Story serve, delivering a powerful eulogy about both the Gallic and global relevance of Grey Goose, while Dav Eames showcased his preparation skills after having dehydrated olives for three days to intensify the flavour of his Good For The Goose cocktail.
Rudi Carraro left the audience inhaling sweet aromas after using a vapouriser machine to surround his Moment of Silence serve in a bergamot perfume cloud.
Nathan, Rudi and Walter made it through to the final round, described as “the ultimate taste test”. This challenged them to create a cocktail to pair with a dish created by two-Michelin-star chef Marcus Wareing of The Gilbert Scott.
Marcus introduced his richly spiced curry-flavoured mulligatawny soup before joining Gary and Chris as a third guest judge. Each bartender was then given 30 minutes to prepare a Grey Goose cocktail from a choice of ingredients.
Rudi Carraro kept it simple with his pairing cocktail, Dish of the Day, selecting only three ingredients. In addition to Grey Goose, he used amaro bitters and cardamom bitters to offset the sweetness of the mulligatawny and deliver an overall balanced serve.
Walter’s The Goose Cup made use of citrus elements from lemons and Grey Goose L’Orange to refresh and clean the palate plus Moroccan bitters for a long finish to match the taste of the dish.
Nathan played heavily on the use of tarragon in his Finesse serve to pair with the vermouth, and used its spicy undertones to bring a sweetness through to match with the curry.
The judges said Nathan’s cocktails consistently impressed with their unsurpassed taste married with a sense of Grey Goose history. He was presented with an engraved cocktail shaker by luxury silverware maker Thomas Lyte.
Nathan said: “The Grey Goose 10 competition is a great opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading brands and this is the first time Le Rendez-Vous has taken place in the UK so I was excited to be part of it.
“The history of the brand is so rich, and whilst Grey Goose is steeped in French heritage, its background in innovation also appeals to me.
“My winning serves were hugely inspired by the flavours of French cuisine, adding a modern and innovative twist to make them relevant for the future, and I can’t wait to demonstrate my take on the dry martini in Cognac at the global final.”
Grey Goose’s UK brand ambassador, Oli Blackburn, added: “The standard of all three finalists was outstanding but Nathan was the clear winner because of the exceptional taste of each of his serves throughout the competition.
“He demonstrated a true understanding of flavour through his use of ingredients and the judges were impressed by the way he paired his cocktail with the dish, especially in front of a two-Michelin-star chef.
“We’re extremely proud to have Nathan represent the UK at the Grey Goose 10 global final and hope he takes the title for the UK.”
The Grey Goose 10 Le Voyage global final takes place in Cognac, the home of Grey Goose, from September 25 to 27 when 10 bartenders from around the world will spend time with Grey Goose maître de chai François Thibault to experience the expertise and craftsmanship behind the vodka.
The trip will culminate in a cocktail competition inspired by “Le Voyage”, where the 10 bartenders will be challenged to recreate their cocktails in front of a panel of judges including François and Grey Goose global ambassador Ludovic Miazga.
The winner will travel to Los Angeles in February to see one of his cocktails served at a Grey Goose Oscars party.
Two Sides to Every Story by Nathan O’Neill
40ml Grey Goose
10ml Noilly Prat Dry
2 dashes Absinthe
Stir all ingredients together and serve straight up in a Martini glass. Garnish with lemon oils and a lemon twist.
Finesse by Nathan O’Neill
40ml Grey Goose Citron
10ml Noilly Prat Dry
Shake all ingredients together, double strain and serve straight up in a coupette glass.