A brisk and breezy day dawned in Edinburgh for the final of the first ever Enotria Wine Cocktails competition. Teams from St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh converged on the Sky Bar of the Point Hotel, in the shadow of the castle, to each create three cocktails (based on the same three wines) which they hoped would bring them the ultimate prize - a trip for the team to Sicily!
First up were the team from Tiki Bar in Glasgow. From the first drink prepared, it was clear this was going to be a contest with very high standards indeed. A Niagara Ice Fall (in homage to the Peller Ice Cuvee Rosé which formed the wine element), it featured Dry Gin, St Germain Liqueur, fresh lemon and jasmine essence. Tiki's other drinks were an Ulmo Vecchia Fiamme (old flame) which featured bourbon, chocolate bitters and a fantastic reduction of Planeta's Plumbago Nero d'Avola, and featuring fresh plums and fresh rosemary; then a Margaret River Cobbler featuring fresh peach, creme de peche and the 2010 Cane Cut Semillon Sauvignon from Xanadu.
Next Matt, Maria and Eddie from the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews took to the bar. Following a peach Caipirinha, their standout creation was the showstopping Maria di Medici. This featured a main ingredient of pancetta-infused vodka. That's right, pancetta-infused. Apparently they fried 1lb of pancetta, drain the oil, pour over the vodka and freeze the whole mixture. The fat can then be separated off leaving the vodka. Then add basil, garlic and tomato juice, and a healthy dose of Plumbago, and voila! The ultimate Bloody Mary!
Bond Number 9 from Leith were next up. Byron, Joe and Shona offered the judges a Chocolate Flip #9, a D'orcia (some kind of American bicycle apparently) which had their brilliant home made tonic (see picture) featuring cardomom and lemongrass, and finally 'the smoking gun' which had smoked gum, burned tea, Kigo Japanese shochu and... the Peller Ice wine. The creativity continued to dazzle the assembled spectators and judges.
Finally Iain and Jo from Bramble stepped up to the bar. "We're all about cocktails and hip-hop," said Iain and proceeded to produce Drink number one which they call the Wu-Tang Punch, made from • a grapefruit oleosachrum (zest rested in sugar) • vanilla tea with milk powder • strawberry infused Armagnac (amazing) • Peller Ice Cuvee rosé This very gluggable punch was an instant hit with the room. Drink number two, the Benita Aperol (in homage to Tribe Called Quest’s Benita Applebaum) featured Rhubarb and vanilla puree (two spoons), Xanadu Cane Cut Semillon / Sauvignon, Elijah Craig 12 yo Bourbon and the Aperol (A bitter Italian rhubarb liqueur).
The final cocktail of the whole competition was a ‘shorty bean naughty’, an intoxicating mix of Coffee beans, Luxado, Rye whiskey, Lagavulin spray and of course the Planeta Plumbago Nero d’Avola. The judges totted up their scores, and finally the winning team was revealed: Bramble's blend of cocktails and hip-hop had won the day! So Iain and Jo will be flying out to Sicily soon to enjoy some southern Italian hospitality.
The judges also chose a best cocktail of the day overall - and the Old Course Hotel's Maria di Medici took the title, pancetta-infused vodka and all.
Here's a 4 minute 'highlights' video of the day featuring some clips of the participants.
Congratulations to Bramble, to the Old Course, and to all the finalists; each was impressive, each individual, and the judges and spectators were wowed by the overall level of commitment and imagination shown throughout.