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T&T bartender wows with amazing hibiscus

Monday, July 8, 2013
In the Mix with Laura Dowrich-Phillips
Kester Blake sets up his station for the competition at the Diageo World Class Reserve Global Bartending Competition. PHOTO: LAURA DOWRICH-PHILLIPS

Laura Dowrich Phillips, editor of our sister publication Metro, is currently in the Mediterranean aboard the Azamara Journey cruise liner for the fifth annual Diageo World Class Reserve Global Bartending competition, one of the world’s top mixology competitions. Dowrich-Phillips is following the exploits of Kester Blake, T&T’s representative in the competition. 



Kester Blake, T&T’s finalist in the Diageo World Class Global Bartending 2013 competition, showed a lot of Trinbago pride as the competition officially got under way on July 5.


Competing in Group C, Blake, of Club Zen, took advantage of familiar ingredients he found in Monte Carlo, such as hibiscus, to create a floral concoction he simply called Floral for his first competition, called Time to Play. 


Time to Play mandated the bartenders to present one cocktail evoking the mystery and glamour of the prohibition speakeasy using Tanqueray No. Ten gin and two cocktails using infusions they created overnight in the infusion lab.


Floral combined an infusion of hibiscus, rose petal, ginger and cinnamon with gin as a base spirit. Blake told the judges he was inspired by the hibiscus, which is found growing all over T&T. He added a red wine, bay leaf and clove concoction and Gran Marnier to bring out the citrus flavours of the Tanqueray.


His second cocktail, which he called Starch, was a concoction cleverly produced from a fictitious story he wove about prohibition in T&T, during which time, he said, people would go to stores which acted as a front for bars. He handed the judges cards for Blake’s Laundry Mart, on which they were asked to select Starch. The result was a white wine infusion with aniseed and clove, St Germain, lychee and elderflower liqueur, Grand Marnier and Tanqueray No. Ten.


“The impression I got was that they were amazed,” said Blake of the judges’ reactions.


The judges for that first challenge were drink experts Arturo Savage, Gaz Regan and Steve Olson. 


Blake is competing against 43 other bartenders from around the world vying for the Bartender of the Year title. The competition is being held aboard the Azamara Journey as it sails along the Cote D’Azur and will end in Barcelona, Spain.


It might be a competition to crown the world’s best bartender but the week-long Global Bartending competition is also proving to be a worthy experience for the members of the media. 


The schedule is chock full of events, like seminars on the Business of Bars and debates on Fads and Fashion, to name a few. There are also product launches, such as the launch of Jinzu, a new blend of gin and sake, and a Don Julio Blue Party, at which new artwork for Don Julio tequila will be revealed. 


There are also special brand parties for various contingents such as the private Ciroc vodka cocktail hour for the Latin American contingent, with Ciroc master blender Jean-Sebastien Robiquet, and a session on Blend your own Zacapa Rum.


At various stops along the way, we will also be treated to special events. In Ibiza, a Ciroc party will be held at the island’s top nightclub, Ushuaia, and in St Tropez, the Latin American contingent—of which I am a part—will be treated to a Johnnie Walker Blue private event.


The finals of the Diageo World Class Reserve Global Bartending Competition will take place tomorrow in Barcelona.


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