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Issue 69 - Kings of cocktails

Whisky Magazine Issue 69
January 2008


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Kings of cocktails

To mark the fifth anniversary of its American bartenders' trip Brown Forman picked an elite group to take part in a cocktail event. Dominic Roskrow joined them

As events go, this year's bartenders' challenge was among the weirdest.

You could describe it as bourbon's future meeting its past: a group of wellseasoned but still relatively young and fashionable bartenders parading in front of some of Kentucky's old guard.

The idea was simple enough: each bartender was to prepare and present two cocktails to a group of invited guests, including a local liquor store owner with a wicked sense of humour and an ‘award winning' female bartender whose own cocktail consisted of a bottle of Woodford Reserve and a bottle of sweet mixer which given the company was the drinks equivalent of Ozzy Osbourne dancing in Doc Martens alongside the Moscow Ballet.

Meanwhile whiskey archivist and historian Mike Veach, who looks like antique toy collector Al in Toy Story, sat uncomfortably for most of the session until just before the end, when without warning he launched into a tirade against the bourbon companies who had messed with the traditional ways of making bourbon by altering fermentation times. What the industry needed, he said, was a microdistiller to come along and produce real bourbon. Brave stuff given that we were seated in the bar area of Brown Forman's plush Louisville offices.

While all of this craziness was going on at the top table the British bartenders' group, something of a who's who of the British cocktail scene, came forward one by one to present and explain their cocktails. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were all stunning, though q...

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