Over the last few years I've not taken part in as many cocktail competitions as I would have liked due to a combination of not having the time but also being asked to judge as opposed to compete.
After winning the Drambuie UK cocktail competition both locally and nationally earlier this year I regained the desire to take part wherever possible as I believe it's a great way to see what various bartenders are playing around with across the World whilst also meeting the best of the best.
I recently took part in Licor 43's UK competition at Raconteur in Edinburgh. The comp was relatively straight-forward, create one Vanilla Daiquiri and two seasonal cocktails of your choice, with Licor 43 at the heart of these drinks.
When it came to the Vanilla Daiquiri I wanted to pay respect to the classic Daiquiri, adding subtle twists whilst serving it in the way we expect these days.
40ml Bacardi Superior
20ml Licor 43
15ml Fresh lime juice
10ml Fresh lemon juice
12.5ml Champagne syrup [1 glass Perrier Jouet, 1/2 glass unrefined caster sugar]
4 Grinds black peppercorns
Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass fill with cubed ice and shake hard for ten seconds. Fine strain
Glass: Frozen coupe
Judges scores: The three judges scored this drink 15, 16 and 18 out of 20.
My first seasonal drink which I named Shochu Punch was created for Spring and modelled on the classic punch definition.
50ml Iichiko Shochu
20ml Licor 43
15ml Chase Rhubarb
25ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Dashes Dandelion & Burdock Bitters
1 Fresh egg white
5ml Sugar syrup
Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass and dry shake for five seconds. Fill with cubed ice and shake hard for a further ten seconds. Fine strain
Glass: Small wine
Garnish: Two dots of Peychaud's Bitters
Score: 19, 22 and 23 out of 25.
With the heritage of Licor 43 in mind for my final drink, I wanted it to have an association with Spain in as many ways as possible. A beverage that was warming and soothing, spicy with a little bit of flair, full-flavoured but more-ish, intriguing and luxurious...
Using my knowledge of previous comps, I made the decision to add an element of risk to my drink. I've noticed that the vast majority of winning drinks are often risky to create in a competition setting, whether it be the method you use, the style of drink, or a particular ingredient.
Looking at seasons in a wider context than I previously thought possible (don't even ask), I decided to base it on the modern definition of the Flip category (spirit, sugar, spice and a whole egg). I've found Flips to be a misunderstood category and a style of drink that people are happy to dismiss without even trying to explore. More often than not it is a category which is loved by all when the barrier is broken down.
On top of that I wanted to create an ingredient of my own, something that I knew no-one else would have. I was fully aware that this wouldn't just be a couple of hours work. I don't do things by halves so when I make a commitment I know it's going to be weeks, if not months of work, as opposed to hours and days. In this case it was bitters again. Spanish Bitters to be exact.
What I came up with was the Union Flip...
1 Barspoon Caraway Seeds
1 Whole egg
37.5ml Appleton 8 Year Old
37.5ml Licor 43
4 Dashes Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish Bitters
5ml Sugar Syrup
4 Crunches Black Peppercorn
Method: Muddle caraway seeds in base of mixing glass, add remaining ingredients and dry shake for five seconds. Fill with cubed ice and shake hard for a further ten seconds. Fine strain.
Garnish: Roasted tonka bean grated over top
Score: 20, 21 and 24 out of 25
The Spanish Bitters are based on a number of recipes I dug up from various points of the 1800s and early 1900s. Based on predominant citrus and chamomile, the final product was unlike no other bitters I've tried boasting a great deal of versatility.
After passing on two bottles to Jamie Mac at the Raconteur in Edinburgh and Steffin Oghene of Green & Red in London, word got out about these bitters and I started being contacted by bartenders and enthusiasts across the globe enquiring if I'd be compounding more than the six bottles I had initially constructed and if I planned on releasing them to the wider market.
Initially I didn't intend to, this was to be a one-off, but due to demand, the fantastic feedback I received at the Licor 43 competition and from those who have since tried them I've decided to make a limited edition small-batch, with these bottles initially released in the UK but now available in Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, USA and Australia to name but a few. See below for a list of distributors.
The label design is still a work in progress and I'm currently awaiting delivery of some botanicals for this limited edition batch, but to try and appease the clamour and the many questions I'm being asked I now bring you Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish Bitters...
Aberdeen, 28th July 2010
Since the release of Adam Elmegirab's Boker's reformulation in July 2009, he has been researching the work of our cocktail forefathers for ideas and inspiration to follow up with other unique products. Like his predecessors, Adam is constantly striving to break down boundaries in order to give bartenders products they wish to work with; bottlings created with natural ingredients, flavours and passion, whilst staying true to the traditions of classic bitters. In this case, Adam took inspiration from Spain...
Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish Bitters evoke memories of a style of bitters dating back to the early years of the cock-tail. Based on Spanish Bitters recipes from the 1800s, these bitters have been reformulated to work in harmony with modern spirits and libations and are now in demand across the globe.
Handcrafted, hand-bottled and hand-labelled, Spanish Bitters are a great addition to any bitters collection adding depth to simple beverages such as a Tequila & Tonic, a point of difference in a wide range of classic cocktails, or in original libations such as Dr. Adam's Union Flip.
Tasting Notes: Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Spanish Bitters have layers of complex flavour including coriander, violet, raspberry, honey, citrus, pomegranate, toasted orange and predominant chamomile all leading to a long bittersweet finish.
Bottle webpage - Limited Edition Spanish Bitters
Bottle Image - TO COME
Purchasing contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributors/Suppliers - Global Distributor PDF
If anyone would like further information regarding the bitters, please contact me directly on email@example.com, quoting Spanish Bitters in the subject line.
Bar Consultant / Compounder
Evo-lution / Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters
Web: www.evo-lution.org / www.bokersbitters.co.uk
Facebook: Adam Elmegirab / Evo-lution Bar Consultancy / Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters