Early June. Angers France. 16 bartenders from 11 countries. It can only be one thing – The Giffard West Cup Final. Once a year Giffard hosts some of the worlds best and most creative bartenders as they go head to head in delivering their most imaginative cocktail made from the vast range of liqueurs produced by the this still family owned company. Since October 2014 this years finalists have been competing in regional heats starting with Singapore and finishing in the UK in May 2015.
The finalists all arrived in Angers on Sunday 7th June and once checked in were taken out for a special Menthe-Pastille exhibition at Angers “Musées des Beaux-Arts”. Indeed Giffard flagship product is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, a great occasion to take a look at vintage posters ads from 1900′ to 1950′. Then a Gastronomic City Tour was planned. Teams were formed and had their grey cells tested by solving riddles about the ancient town of Angers. Their reward? A belly full of local food and wine with Quernons d’ardoise and Coteaux du Layon going down particularly well. They were also shown some of the historical points relating to Giffards long history including the old pharmacy of Emile Giffard and also his first distillery. After all was seen it was off to Angers only rooftop restaurant for dinner, more wine and some checking out of the competition.
Monday 8th June. competition day. As expected the standard was high, the drinks were flowing and the atmosphere was competitively friendly. The rules were simple – create 1 drink which must include a minimum of 1cl Giffard Liqueur (either in the Premium or Classic range) and a minimum of 0.5cl Bigallet China China. This year also included a special 2nd round dedicated to Menthe-Pastille. There were 2 judging parts for each challenge: An execution part (presentation, dexterity, professionalism, technical efficiency while mixing , respect of time …) , and a tasting (cocktail appearance, aroma and taste) with final marking being the average between the 2 cocktail challenges (each cocktail counting for 50% ).
1st Prize : Uwe Reichert from “Rule 405″ – Berlin – Germany
2nd Prize : Veronica Saye from Food & Liquor – Toronto – Canada
3rd Prize : Pavlos Aslanidis from Mojo Cocktail Bar – Thessaloniki – Greece
Special Prize of the Jury for the Liqueurs Challenge : Yael Vengroff from The Spare Room – Los Angeles – USA
Special Prize of the Jury for the Menthe-Pastille Challenge : Kino Soh from Hopscotch Bar -Singapore.
And that wrapped up a great couple of days with a fantastic group of bartenders all competing for their love of the industry. Oh and just maybe bragging rights too! No big prize or cheque waiting for them at the end, just a group hug and fond memories of time spent with their peers and the fun had in the city of Angers. A genuine pleasure to see how many bartenders are still happy to be part of our incredible industry and inspired by the people around them. You do the bartending family proud.