Whisky Magazine Issue 48
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The second annual Cocktail Challenge took place at Whisky Live in London. Dominic Roskrow reports
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, when we first gathered at the City Inn in London for the first proper Whisky Cocktail Challenge, there was a lot of prodding and poking at the idea of whisky cocktails. Lots of sniff and scratch, lots of taste it and see.
Our barmen gathered intrigued and engaged, but not altogether sure about what we were all doing here. The guys with the bourbons and blends looked happier than the guys with the malts. What to do? Hide the malt notes in a mass of fruit juice or wave them defiantly, using the cocktail base to draw attention to them?
Ayear on and that debate is already well and truly redundant. Britain's best bar tenders are embracing single malt and showing it off, revelling in the challenge it represents and taking pride in their ability to conquer it and display it in all its glory, the cocktail maker's equivalent to taming a stallion.
This year's event takes place the afternoon before Whisky Live London, and is once more at the City Inn. The competitors this year include some from last, but there are several new faces too. Most are accompanied by a group of supporters so by the time we start there's a healthy crowd in the bar.
Cocktail competitions have a momentum of their own. The bar tenders decide the running order by ballot. Each bar tender takes his potion at the bar in turn, and prepares himself. The judges – made up of Whisky Magazine personnel and the highlyrespected Henry Besant from The Lonsdale and Nick S...