Lewis McKenzie from Axis Bar in the Hilton Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has been crowned winner of the sixth annual Opihr Global Cocktail Competition.
At the grand final, which took place in Venice, Italy, Lewis competed against five other top bartenders from around the world, including the UK & Ireland, USA, Germany, APAC and South Africa.
For this year’s competition, the bartenders were tasked with creating a cocktail that transcended borders, cities and cultures, encapsulating their journey to the final in Venice. Each cocktail was to contain Opihr Gin and no more than five ingredients.
Prior to the final, the contestants were immersed in Venice’s rich culture, getting inspired by the city’s city’s tastes and smells, as well as being introduced to new ingredients. The group embarked on a number of activities, including a trip to the island of Murano, where they were introduced to the skillful art of Venetian glassblowing.
2019’s judging panel, which was comprised of Aaron Pollack, 2018’s Ophir Global Cocktail Competition champion; Danil Nevsky, editor of Cocktail’s For You; and Filippo Sisti, Italian mixologist and bar manager at Carlo e Camilla in Milan, were impressed by the quality, local ingredients that Lewis chose to include in his winning cocktail, entitled A Bridge Too Far.
Lewis said: “My creation is inspired by the spirit of adventure and those who are bold and brave enough to explore the world in the search of new experiences and cultures – just like we all have with our journey to the final in Venice.
“Taking inspiration from all that I have discovered here, I created a cordial using fresh grapefruit and local lavender honey. I combined this with chamomile and Szechuan pepper to echo the flavour profile of Opihr, which worked perfectly when mixed with the spiced gin, and finished it off with some orange bitters. For me, this creation represents Marco Polo, a famous Venetian traveler who headed East.
“I’ve had the most amazing time here in Venice and it’s been a pleasure to meet such talented bartenders. We’ve learned and shared so much during our week here, and I’ll be going home with new knowledge and some unforgettable memories. To be crowned the Spirit of Opihr 2019 is a dream come true!”
Lewis will now get the opportunity to work on exciting projects and support the brand team around the world in an honorary brand ambassador role.
The eight finalists in the Opihr Global Cocktail Competition 2019 were Darren Geraghty, UK & Ireland; David Mor, USA; Merlin Hoyer, Germany; Hoang Tu Quyen, Vietnam; and Aaron Datnow, South Africa.
A Bridge Too Far by Lewis McKenzie
40ml Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin
40ml Spiced honey cordial
10ml Orange bitters