A bartender from Denmark has been announced as winner of this year’s Tahona Society competition seeking the best tequila cocktails.
Jeppe Nothlev, from Helium in Copenhagen, impressed the judges with Sweet Effort (pictured), crafted from Altos Plata Tequila, representing a balance between the history, culture and ingredients of Denmark and Mexico with its use of Pedro Ximénez sherry and rhubarb. See below for the recipe.
Bringing to life the sustainable values at the heart of Altos Tequila, Nothlev reduced wastage by drying and crushing the spent rhubarb and mixing it with salt to craft a garnish and then sprayed an infusion of Altos Plata and used lime husks on top to pack an additional tequila punch.
He was one of 25 national winners from around the world who were taken to Mexico for a week of challenges that tested participants’ cocktail creativity, ability to blind-taste Altos Tequila and presentation skills.
The UK competitors were Kaiko Tulloch from The Lucky Liquor Co in Edinburgh, representing Scotland, Oliver Cush from Happiness Forgets in London representing England. See below for a full list of competitors.
Jeppe (pictured below) said: “It has been a hard-fought competition over the last week, so it’s a great honour to have been crowned the winner of The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017.
“Coming to Mexico and learning about its street food culture, Altos’s sustainable values and, of course, tequila has been a life-changing experience and it has made me a stronger bartender, which I hope the judges saw in my final creation, Sweet Effort.
“This experience has given me so much inspiration for the coming year and I can’t wait to begin spreading the word about Tequila, Altos and The Tahona Society.”
As a prize, Jeppe becomes The Tahona Society global ambassador and will be given the opportunity to host educational Tahona Society programmes for fellow bartenders around the world in the coming year.
Second place went to Egor Kozlovsky from Peresmeshnik in Minsk, Belarus, while joint third place went to Ana Milena Alzate from Bar Club in Bogotá, Colombia, and AJ Snetler, from The Twankey in Cape Town, South Africa.
For the first time, the top four will return to Mexico next year to craft a limited-edition Altos Tequila bottling with maestro tequilero Jesus Hernandez.
Now in its seventh year, The Tahona Society is the world’s leading tequila education programme. The 2017 competition challenged bartenders to craft a new and innovative cocktail that championed Altos Tequila’s sustainable values while appealing to fans of the growing Mexican culinary and street food revolution.
To assist their preparation for the finale and their career beyond the competition, contenders were schooled in various areas key to running a modern, successful bar business, such as sustainability and global drinks trends, hosted by leading figures in cocktails including 2016 winner Kelsey Ramage, formerly a bartender at Dandelyan at the Mondrian London hotel and now spokesperson for her own Trash Tiki project.
Alongside Kelsey, this year’s judging panel boasted some of the world’s leading tequila and cocktail influencers including Dré Masso, who co-created Altos Tequila in 2009 with Henry Besant and Jesus Hernandez, leading London bartender Simone Caporale, Mexican ingredients aficionado Jorge Fitz, and renowned tequila author Alberto Navarro.
Remarked on the overwhelming talent of the finalists, Dré said: “It has been a privilege to bring together such an outstanding and passionate group of bartenders and watch them compete for this year’s The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition title.
“In the end, only one bartender could win and we chose Jeppe as he demonstrated imagination and a clear link to Altos Tequila’s values of brotherhood and sustainability. Congratulations Jeppe!”
Sweet Effort by Jeppe Nothlev
50ml Altos Plata tequila
10ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
30ml Rhubarb syrup
30ml Lime juice
Dash of egg white
Mix the Altos Plata, sherry, rhubarb syrup, lime juice and egg white, shake and pour into a highball glass and top with grapefruit lemonade.
The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017 finalists
Attila Szelhoffer, Darwin, Salzburg (Austria)
Thomas Hausknecht, Darwin, Salzburg (Austria)
Yahor Kozlovsky, Peresmeshnik, Minsk (Belarus)
Mike Birdsy, Drinksmith, Toronto (Canada)
Ana Milena Alzate, Bar Club, Bogotá (Colombia)
Laura Barobosa, La Guera, Bogotá (Colombia)
Jeppe Nothlev, Helium, Copenhagen (Denmark)
Oliver Cush, Happiness Forgets, London (England)
Samuel Dedieu, Casa Jaguar, Lyon (France)
Jonathan Callaghan, The Skeff, Galway (Ireland)
Karolis Jakelevicius, Alchemikas, Vilnius (Lithuania)
Mario Mena, Sonora Grill, Mexico City (Mexico)
Elizabeth Gordillo, Hard Rock, Playa del Carmen (Mexico)
Evan Rage, FYR Bistronomi og Bar, Oslo (Norway)
Oscar Wereza, Eliksir, Gdanks (Poland)
Alain Branco, Pistola y Corazon, Lisbon (Portugal)
Mikahil Melnik, El Copitas, St Petersburg (Russia)
Adil Zhelnov, 15 Kitchen + Bar, Moscow (Russia)
Kaiko Tulloch, The Lucky Liquor Co, Edinburgh (Scotland)
AJ Snetler, The Twankey, Cape Town (South Africa)
Yiğitcan Gençer, Finn, Istanbul (Turkey)
Mete Bas, Alexandra, Istanbul (Turkey)
Bahaddin Aydin, Kepler Social House, Izmir (Turkey)
Anthony Bohlinger, Maison Premier, New York City (USA)
Karen Grill, Faith & Flower, Los Angeles (USA)