UK bartender off to New Orleans after winning Sidecar challenge

Mike Foster Sidecar by Merlet

Mike Foster of London bar 69 Colebrooke Row will be heading to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans after winning a competition to make a twist on a classic Sidecar.

He was one of five finalists who took part in the European final of Sidecar by Merlet in Cognac in France, which featured Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac as well as Merlet liqueurs.

They were challenged to create their own version of the Sidecar using Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac and Merlet Trois Citrus triple sec, followed by an original cocktail made from a Merlet liqueur and spirit, both randomly drawn on the day.

The options in the draw were Merlet Crème de Framboise, Crème de Pêche and Crème de Fraise des Bois plus gin, tequila or rum.

Mike (pictured) won with a Sidecar twist called Terre de Verneuil which mixed Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac with vanilla-infused Merlet Trois Citrus plus his own lapsang souchong syrup and lemon juice plus a spray of a homemade fragrance.

The ingredients drawn randomly for his original cocktail, Le Boissonneur des Lilas, were Merlet Crème de Pêche and a blanco tequila, which he mixed with cider, lemon juice and gomme syrup and decorated with a lilac flower.

The other four finalists were Vincent Johansson from Miss Clara in Stockholm, Maxime Pezzoni from Mary Céleste in Paris, Christian Schmidt from Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bar in Munich, and Santiago Ortiz from Bobby Gin in Barcelona.

Each bartender had already won the final event in their home country, allowing them to take part in the grand European final. Mike will travel with Merlet to Tales of the Cocktail in July.

The Distillerie Merlet & Fils is a family-run business which, for five generations, has been based in the Saintonge region of France.

Terre de Verneuil
40ml Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac
5ml Vanilla-infused Merlet Trois Citrus
20ml Lemon juice
10ml Homemade lapsang souchong sugar syrup
Shake the ingredients and strain into a coupette. Garnish with a spray of homemade fragrance.

Le Boissonneur des Lilas
10ml Merlet Crème de Pêche
40ml Tequila blanco
20ml Lemon juice
10ml gomme syrup
Build the first four ingredients in a highball glass, stir and top with cider. Garnish with a lilac flower.

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