The Wenneker Swizzle Masters Asian Margarita results

4th October, 2016 by Nicola Carruthers

Last month’s heat dared swizzlers to get creative and add a little heat to the classic Margarita by featuring a fiery Chinese spirit.

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Giulia Cuccurullo, general manager of Ladies and Gentleman set to the task of stirring, shaking and serving each tipple

Part of the ‘sour’ cocktail family, the Margarita usually has ‘Mexico’ written all over it, with Tequila as the base spirit combined with triple sec and lime juice. For the final preliminary heat of the Wenneker Swizzle Masters, bartenders were challenged with putting their own twist on an Asian-inspired Margarita, using Hong Kong Baijiu as the base spirit and at least a dash of Wenneker Liqueurs.

Forming the judging panel this month were Antony Moss, director of strategic planning at WSET; Nicola Thomson, director at Practical Matters; and Annie Hayes, news, web and social editor at The Spirits Business, who all gathered at Ladies and Gentleman in Kentish Town, north London. Diligently tending the bar was Giulia Cuccurullo, general manager of Ladies and Gentleman, who set to the task of stirring, shaking and serving each tipple.

Moss said: “Hong Kong Baijiu is a very challenging spirit to use. A successful cocktail needs to add enough ingredients to be more interesting than the base spirit. There is a danger of bitterness and the cocktail needs other flavours that are assertive enough to not be overwhelmed by the baijiu.”

However, Thomson added: “The winning cocktail certainly showed and highlighted the user-friendliness of the Hong Kong Baijiu.”

The best cocktail of the day and claiming the last spot in October’s semi-final was the “fruity and mouthwatering” Love in Guadalajara by Yefry Avilera, which combined Hong Kong Baijiu with Tequila, Wenneker Curaçao Orange, Wenneker Ginger and fresh lime juice.

Thomson said: “It’s a very vibrant colour and not overly aggressive. There were hints of candied nectarine and baked peach, with a good balance between the baijiu and Tequila.

According to Moss: “There’s a gorgeous aroma and it makes great use of the baijiu. Although it’s slightly unbalanced by the initial sweetness, this is integrated well in the finish.”

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“Hong Kong Baijiu is a very challenging spirit to use,” said Moss

Second place was awarded to the “well-balanced and light” Bailong’s Tears by Elliot Barker. Judges were pleased with the drink, which perfectly matched the brief with its “very Asian-infused flavours on the palate”, featuring Wenneker Mandarin, Wenneker Pisang Bagoes, lime juice and pickled ginger brine.

Hayes said: “It’s a beautiful, pale green colour, and looks really refreshing and easy-to-drink. It very cleverly works with the baijiu.”

Finally, in third place, was Kriss Kovy, who won over the judges’ palates with his aptly-named Marga-chi-ta.

Praised as a “fruity and refreshing” serve, the combination of Wenneker Lychee, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice and fresh pomelo juice pleased the panel. Hayes said: “This drink looks elegant and champions the baijiu without letting its punchier flavours overpower the drink. The combination of citrus and lychee works really well.”

Overall, Hayes said: “I was thoroughly impressed with the standard of drinks today. Baijiu is a total cocktail curveball, a real challenge to mix with, and overall the entries were outstanding – inventive and clever in equal measure. The winning cocktail was very well executed: juicy, flavoursome, and really well-balanced. It wouldn’t be out of place on the cocktail menu at a high-end bar and definitely earned its place in the semi-final.”

Click through to the next page to discover how to recreate the winning recipes from the latest round.

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