Nikka names Perfect Serve European winner

The winner of the annual European bartending competition run for Japanese whisky Nikka has been named as Amaury Guyot, co-owner of the new Sherry Butt bar in Paris.

The final of Nikka Perfect Serve, held at the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow on November 5, featured six finalists (pictured) including UK winner Adam McGurk of London bar and restaurant group Hawksmoor.

Second place went to Doreen Philipp, manager of the Falk’s Bar at Munich’s Hotel Bayerischer Hof. The other finalists were Tommaso Colonna from Caffè Gambrinus in Milan, Bubashvili Ilia from Aloha Bar in Moscow, and Adam Hrapko from Black Angels in Prague.

The judges were impressed by Amaury’s technique, his natural attitude and his cocktails. They praised all the finalists for their “incredible creativity”, but what set the French bartender apart was his ability to really listen to the judges, and present personalised drinks according to the “omakase” theme of the contest.

“Omakase” means “I leave it to you”, representing the ultimate challenge for a bartender, who must read the context, the guest’s mood and even their palate by gathering as many clues as possible. Only then can they present the perfect cocktail for that person at that moment.

This is an extension of the Japanese Ichi-go Ichi-e philosophy (meaning “one moment, one encounter”), introduced to western bartenders by Nikka brand ambassador Stanislav Vadrna.

This year, the finalists were tested over two rounds. In the first round, each bartender had to prepare their version of a Perfect Nikka Manhattan, using the Nikka Coffey Grain whisky, and a predefined selection of sweet and dry vermouths, cocktail bitters and garnishes.

For the second round, the finalists had to improvise three Nikka whisky drinks, depending on a role being played by the judges. These roles reflected customers that a bartender may encounter, and the challenge lay in presenting them with the right type of whisky and in the right form, whether a cocktail, highball, mizuwari, straight or on the rocks.

Perfect Nikka Manhattan by Amaury Guyot

1 dash of Angostura Orange Bitters
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
10ml Noilly Pratt Rouge
10ml Carpano Antica Formula
15ml Noilly Pratt Dry
45ml Nikka Coffey Grain
Twist of lemon and orange

Amaury Guyot and Doreen Philipp

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