Old Forester finds winning twist in bartender competition


Steve Lawson Tom Vernon

Steve Lawson from Mash London steakhouse and bar triumphed in a competition run for Old Forester bourbon to tie in with the anniversary of the repeal of US Prohibition.

Steve (pictured left) created the Spice of My Life, mixing the bourbon with spiced apricot brandy and Noilly Prat Ambré vermouth, serving it in an old medicine bottle.

Bartenders were challenged to create a twist on the classic cocktails served in the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, before Prohibition started in 1920. Old Forester, founded by George Garvin Brown in 1870, was one of only 10 bourbon brands authorised to be made legally during Prohibition through a medicinal licence.

The Old Forester – The Original Hipster competition was held at High Water in Dalston, London, on December 2 in advance of a weekend of activities in bars around the UK to celebrate Repeal Day.

The winner’s prize included a glass-blowing course – a nod to Old Forester being the first-ever bottled bourbon. Steve also won a limited-edition bottle not available in the UK. The runners-up received an antique decanter and an Old Forester bourbon special-edition bottle.

The competition saw bartenders from the UK’s top Old Forester Bourbon accounts handpicked to take part. They were judged on the taste of the serve, presentation and the reasons why they thought their serve should win.

Steve said: “I’m delighted to win the Old Forester Repeal Day competition amongst some tough contenders. I’m looking forward to the prize and sipping on lots more Old Forester.”

UK brand ambassador Tom Vernon (pictured right) added: “It’s such a vibrant cocktail scene in London, it’s refreshing to see people take on a classic product like Old Forester bourbon, giving it a modern interpretation.

“Something that George Garvin Brown would have been very proud of is seeing classics re-interpreted in the 21st-century style, the same way he re-interpreted the way bourbon was made.”

Spice of My Life by Steve Lawson

50ml Old Forester Bourbon
25ml Spiced apricot brandy
15ml Noilly Prat Ambré

Combine all ingredients and roll them in a boston shaker. Serve in a chilled glass or a small medicine bottle.

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