Whisky cocktail competition finds world’s first Chivas Master

Masahiro Urushido Chivas Masters

American bartender Masahiro Urushido (pictured) has been announced as the first Chivas Master at the end of a global competition for Chivas Regal whisky.

Competing against 11 other winners from national heats in countries around the world including the UK, he impressed the international panel of judges with his cocktail, The New Pal.

It combines the whisky with camomile-infused Campari and Dolin Blanc vermouth over ice, garnished with a camomile “mist”, a fresh camomile flower and camomile “salt”

The final, held at the NoMad hotel in New York, also featured UK winner Alistair Reynolds from Spitalfields Bar at Hawksmoor in east London.

Masahiro’s prize is the opportunity to work in partnership with Dave Arnold, inventor and co-founder of Booker & Dax, the New York City bar and food science development company and lab dedicated to finding solutions to real world food, beverage and cooking issues.

The partnership will see Masahiro and Dave collaborate on “an inspirational concept” which will be revealed at the next Chivas Masters final in 2015.

The 13 finalists were all winners of the national Chivas Masters heats, which took place around the world following the competition’s launch in April this year.

During the national heats, competitors were tasked with creating a new classic cocktail that would stand the test of time, like Chivas, drawing inspiration from one of the four great cocktail eras: the Classic Age (1880-1920) which saw the birth of Chivas Regal; the Post War Boom (1945-1965) during which time Chivas 12 was introduced; the Disco Years (1975-1990) which saw the brand grow globally; and the present-day modern “Age of Revivalism”.

During the two-day final, the bartenders were asked to re-create one of the cocktails that earned them a place in the final and also compete in a series of challenges designed to test their creativity, style and mixology skills.

Highlights of these challenges included creating a milk-based cocktail for New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar, devising a cocktail pairing with a dish from Manhattan’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar, experimenting with carbonation with Dave Arnold, and presenting classic drinks at Manhattan bar The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog.

The judging panel was featured leading experts in the world of food and drink, including Ago Perrone, director of mixology at the Connaught Bar at The Connaught hotel in London, Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry from The Dead Rabbit, and Max Warner, Chivas Global brand ambassador.

Dave Arnold said: “There were 13 talented bartenders for the judging panel to consider. These are professionals from some of the most iconic venues in the world so I would like to congratulate all of them for participating.

“The cocktails prepared by Masahiro were particularly impressive, and I look forward to working with him in the coming months.”

Masahiro, who works at Manhattan cocktail bar The Daily and restaurant Saxon & Parole, added: “It’s an honour to be chosen as the first Chivas Master. As a bartender, I am well aware of the long heritage of Chivas so immersing myself into the history of cocktails to create a drink that can stand the test of time has been very inspirational.

“I am excited to share this experience with my fellow bartenders and to introduce my The New Pal cocktail to my customers in New York. I hope that it encourages other bartenders around the world to create new Chivas cocktails inspired by the great classics.”

Max said: “From Australia to Israel, Chile to China, there was talent from all over the world involved in the competition and we are very excited with the success of the inaugural Chivas Masters.

“The global cocktail scene is seeing a growing interest in classic-inspired modern cocktails and, as a brand proud to be nurturing the bartending community, we look forward to continuing to inspire the on-trade to create great cocktails steeped in heritage, such as the one created by the very talented Masahiro Urushido.”

All competitors who took part in the final ended their trip with a visit to the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans this week, where Chivas is sponsoring the category for best American/international cocktail bar in the Spirited Awards.

The New Pal by Masahiro Urushido (US measures)

1.5 oz Chivas 12
3/4 oz Camomile-infused Campari
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc

Stir and strain over hand carved ice. Garnish with a camomile “mist”, a fresh camomile flower and camomile “salt”.

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