Three Most Promising: Only One Winner!
Last February 2013 TheFloatingRumShack.com attended the UK finals of the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition. It was held in a beautifully decorated Victorian warehouse near Farringdon called The Farmiloe and was easily one of the most lavish events we’ve ever attended. The competition initially took a little while for me to grasp – it’s a competition that takes just over two years to play out; from initial competitor entry to the selection of the UK’s representative in the global finals. It’s a competition that you shouldn’t enter without being prepared to devote significant period of time to as the demands increase the further you progress.
We saw the six regional winners present their cocktails with the hope that they would be selected as one of the three most promising and progress through to the second phase of the competition. Yes – second phase – another whole year yet to go.
In no particular order, Tom Walker’s Maid in Cuba, Sam Kershaw’s Favourite Frost and Nelson Bernardes The Perfect Host progressed thus subjecting the competitor and their cocktail to a whole different level of critical analysis. This select group is now referred to as the ‘three most promising’ (TMP). Given a fairly substantial budget, the goal is to promote the cocktail, themselves and Bacardi to the general public. The manner of the promotion is entirely down to the imagination (and financial restriction) of the competitor and it is here on a very public stage that the second phase is played out with Joe Public blissfully unaware of their involvement.
The main focus of the UK Finals though is to select the overall winner of the previous year’s TMP. Confused? – I’m not surprised! The two year competition overlaps by a year, meaning that while the last TMP do battle, the UK’s representative seeks personal glory on an international stage, whilst also acting as further inspiration to TMP as well. Chris Moore with his Encantador cocktail won through and did battle in Puerto Rico, losing to Elizabeta Evdokimova (Moscow, Russia) with The Knight Cup cocktail. On a personal note, I’m happy to say we met Lizzy and found both her and the cocktail to be wonderful – a worthy winner and a fantastic representative for Bacardi as she toured the world promoting The Knight Cup.
Who will win through from the three most promising this year is going to be tough call – three great drinks and two competitors who have achieved truly worldwide representation for themselves and Bacardi. I think it’s fair to say that Sam Kershaw’s main promotional move came a little late in the day, but we still enjoyed a fab party at Callooh Callay where I’m not too proud to admit that my pre-judging of the favourite Frost was well off the mark: assuming the Kamm & Son’s element was going to make it far too bitter for my palate. In reality the cocktail is very nicely balanced and I enjoyed several that evening.
Nelson started the strongest (in my opinion), very quickly establishing a strong connection with the Hilton chain of hotels (for whom he works), incorporating The Perfect Host into the regular cocktail masterclasses that were run at the Waldorf Hilton and travelling to a number of countries promoting both the story behind and the cocktail itself.
I spoke to Nelson recently where he told me “the highlights of my campaign were the guest bartender tour in Edinburgh, Rome, Venice, Lisbon, Faro, Stockholm and Prague, also being on the TV news in Portugal and two other TV shows to talk about my journey. Not to mention some magazine articles on "back to basics in hospitality" cocktail classes at the Waldorf for 850 guests, a charity event, Facebook fan page with more than 3000 followers, Twitter page, YouTube videos with Simone Caporale and Luca Cordiglieri, wall plaque ceremony at the Waldorf!”. He really could go on – but he had a plane to catch!
For me The Perfect Host was something I was able to make at home and so I’d already realised that a slightly unusual list of ingredients came together in a fab cocktail, with the experience only raised by having one made by Nelson himself. In this regard Nelson achieved the namesake status hinted at by the cocktail many times over.
Where Nelson took off at a sprint, Tom may just have taken a little more time to achieve traction, but if you can recall the leg spinning, dust raising cartoon character: Speedy Gonzalez, the effect was much the same! The Maid in Cuba was served in at least eighty bars by Tom himself, notably in Havana (Cuba) at Floridita and one other rather famous location. Taking Bacardi back to its roots was quite a stunt, but it was tempered with safer public outings at Taste of London for example [please take a moment to check out Tom’s YouTube channel]. Once again the backing of a major hotel chain assisted Tom in presenting his cocktail to a global audience – recognising the benefits of shared publicity.
For me, all three cocktails were worthy finalists, but The Maid in Cuba is the one just (just!) shaded it – the very best showcase of Bacardi Superior rum in a drink I can think of, wonderfully refreshing and one that I’d very happily order any time – in fact I have ordered it many times, a number of them outside the American Bar at The Savoy. It’s a damn close call between Nelson and Tom though – can’t wait to see who will win on the night!
Rum Databank: Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition