UK bartenders head to Cognac for G’Vine final

Hannah LanfearBartenders Hannah Lanfear (pictured) and Jamie Jones will be heading to Cognac in June to represent the UK in the global final of the Gin Connoisseur Program (GCP) organised for French gin G’Vine.

Hannah, who is bars manager at Boisdale in Canary Wharf in London, won the London preliminary heat this week thanks to her knowledge and her cocktail, The Mary Jean, which mixes G’Vine Nouaison with Aperol and Coco Real coconut cream.

Jamie, who is part of Manchester-based consultancy The Liquorists, won the northern preliminary heat in Manchester earlier this month with his cocktail La Floraison D’Etre which mixes the gin with olive oil, peppercorns and elderflower liqueur.

They will compete against 13 bartenders from other countries including Germany, Spain, Singapore, Australia and Japan in a week of challenges in a 16th-century manor, home of G’Vine Gin, in the Cognac region in south-west France in June.

With the annual competition having the theme of L’Edition Ambassadeur for 2013, it will not only recognise the best bartending skills and greatest gin knowledge, it will also identify a potential global brand ambassador for G’Vine.

The prize includes US$3,000, a tailor-made training programme from leading bartender and cocktail expert Philip Duff, a presenting and media-training course, and the chance to present seminars at both Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in July and Bar Convent in Berlin in October.

The London heat at Paramount was judged by legendary bartender Salvatore Calabrese, who heads Salvatore at Playboy in London, and last year’s GCP winner, Pawel Rolka, bar manager of Coq d’Argent in the City of London. They were joined by blogger Emma Stokes of Gin Monkey, Simon Webster of BarlifeUK and Rebecca Seal, presenter of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

As in Manchester, each competitor earned points by running their own bar single handed during a party, the G’Vine Bartenders’ Ball, where their drinks were voted on by bartenders, media and consumers.

Second place was won by Andreas Tsanos of Spirit Level bar at Baku in Knightsbridge, London, with Scarlet Club No 2, mixing infused G’Vine Floraison with a bergamot sherbet, a champagne reduction and absinthe.

Third place went to Sebastian Kasyna, a bartender at Coq d’Argent, who mixed G’Vine Floraison with melon, green tea, Choya plum liqueur and Lillet Blanc vermouth to create Mr Green.

Hannah said: “The GCP is respected within the drinks industry as a reputable and demanding competition and I’m honoured to have won the London preliminary. I’m excited to have won a competition that asks bartenders to face the vote of the audience as well as a panel of high-calibre judges.

“The idea of the Mary Jean was to create a classic yet contemporary drink, to reflect the spirit of G’Vine. G’Vine Nouaison was the perfect choice to highlight the spicy cardamom and cassia bark notes of my cocktail as it’s smooth yet robust.”

At the northern heat in Epernay in Manchester, Jamie won points for both his engaging and knowledgeable presentation and the quality and innovation of his serve.

He said: “The level of bartending in north-west England is incredibly high and I’m honoured that my cocktail was deemed the winning drink. I’m very excited to have the chance to compete at the GCP finals in Cognac in June.”

Philip Duff, who helped to set up the contest said: “Ever since the first GCP in 2010, we noticed that the best competitors and finalists were being snapped up by drinks firms to be brand ambassadors, some just weeks after finals. At the same time, there is a tremendous interest in the job of brand ambassador, and it’s a logical career progression for any ambitious bartender.

“Although several other brands have tried to hire their own ambassadors by running a contest, designing an edition of the GCP that gives bartenders the chance to acquire the skills for the next stage of their career fits nicely with G’Vine’s DNA of being traditional but unconventional.

“What other brand would support a contest where you’re offering free training to bartenders who may get hired by your competitors? G’Vine takes the long view: the more knowledgeable gin bartenders and ambassadors there are out there, the better this great spirit category will be viewed by everyone. That’s why I feel privileged to be asked to help run this contest, every year.”

Preliminary contests, with bartenders taking part by invitation, are being held in major cities around the world. Each day-long event features an industry-leading seminar and a cocktail challenge, culminating in the G’Vine Bartenders’ Ball.

G’Vine, launched in 2006 and available internationally, is a unique hand-crafted grape-based gin from EWG Spirits & Wine in Cognac. It captures the notes of the vine flowers with two expressions: the smooth, round and vibrantly floral Floraison and the silky, dry and subtly floral Nouaison.

The Mary Jean by Hannah Lanfear

40ml G’Vine Nouaison
10ml Aperol
12.5ml Fresh lemon juice
12.5ml Sugar syrup [1:1] 15ml Coco Reál
35ml Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Dash of bitters

Shake hard and serve straight up in a coupette, garnished with a freeze-dried rose

La Floraison D’Etre by Jamie Jones (pictured below)

50ml G’Vine Floraison
15ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
10ml Extra virgin olive oil
5ml Martini Extra Dry
10 Pink peppercorns crushed
1 egg white
25ml Lemon juice
2 spoons of white caster sugar
20ml Water
2 cubes of ice

Shake really hard. Spritz with homemade rose and lavender essence. Serve with a variety of French macaroons.
Jamie Jones_Floraison D'Etre_GCP

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