CitySip just returned from a memorable week in Trinidad with the House of Angostura. The bitter and rum house hosted a crop of fellow journalists, bevy of bartenders and corporate team members from across the world to a week of island adventures, carnival celebrations and Angostura education.
We did it all from taking an extensive tour of the famous Angostura Museum and Rum Distillery, enjoying a Panorama steel drum performance, eating bake and shark (fried shark sandwich) and drinking Caribs (the popular local beer) at the famous Maracas beach and “playing mas (wearing costume), wining (dirty dancing/grinding) and jumping (dancing down the street)” during Carnival. Yet, the main purpose of the trip was the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge finals.
Hundreds of bartenders around the world competed for the opportunity to come to Trinidad for the week at the end of last year. The group was narrowed down to the final 15, an eclectic mixologist mix that competed on Carnival Sunday for a $10,000 cash prize plus the title of Angostura aromatic bitters Global Cocktail Challenge Champion and Global Brand Ambassador for one-year!
Competitors came from all over the world; Roxanne Read of Hush Nightclub in Johannesburg, South Africa, Junior Johari from View in Malaysia, Joe Siagra of Luxe Bar in Perth, Australia, Jamaal Bowen from the posh Sandy Lane Hotel bar in St. Lucia, Maxence Traverse of Le Boudoir in Hong Kong, Giusseppe Santamaria from Barcelona’s Boutique Bar, Dhanpal Parmar from Auma F&B concepts in India, New Zealands, Matterhorn Bar’s Riki Carter, Ilya Bubashvili from the Aloha Bar in Moscow, Ezequiel Rodriguez of Frank’s Bar in Buenos Aires, Nastassia Martin of London’s, Hyde Bar, Trinidad’s own, Carla Cupid of the Kapok Hotel and three U.S. mix masters; David Delaney of Niche Hospitality, Rachel Ford of the Monkey Bar in New York City and Owner of Kansas City’s The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and the Manifesto Bar, Ryan Maybee.
The group of judges had their palettes cut out for them with a tasty 5 + hour competition on deck in which each finalist prepared a Freestyle cocktail and a Angostura Rum cocktail. Head judge, Tony Abou-Ganim said, “competitors concoctions should have bitters as the focus, be creative (but not overly outlandish), be translatable (to menus and mass consumers taste-buds) and be prepared with care, flair and passion.”
In the end Abou-Ganim and fellow judges, Eric Forget of Hine Cognac, last year’s winner, Andy Griffith, Angostura’s own Executive Director of Operations, Vidia Doodnath and renowned mixologist, Jacob Briars selected David Delaney of Massachusett’s, Niche Hospitality as the Overall Winner with his Freestyle sip, “On Second Thought,” that featured Laird’s Applejack, Benedictine, Cherry Heering Liqueur, Maple Syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and Angostura Bitters and his rum laden drink that blended Angostura’s 5 year old Gold Rum, velvet falernum, fresh squeezed lime-juice, maraschino cherry liqueur, Barrits Ginger Beer and Angostura’s Aromatic Bitters. Delaney also took “Best Freestyle Cocktail which Abou-Ganim declared, he could drink all day.
Second place taker was Riki Carter of New Zealand’s Matterhorn Bar. His Rum Cocktail, Johann’s Bittered Sling also took top in the category, which blended together Angostura 1919 Rum, Suze, Angostura aromatic bitters, Licor 43, fresh squeezed lime-juice and Limonatta. Jamaal Bowen of Sandy Lane landed third with the Farmer’s Affair, of Orange Vodka, Kola Tonic, bell pepper syrup, pineapple juice, lime and bitters and The Siegert’s Quest (The Siegert family started Angostura in the 1800s) of Angostura 1919, falernum, Angostura aromatic bitters, Angostura orange bitters, sage leaves and mango juice.
A rum and bitter filled week it was and we can’t wait to see what Delaney does with the prestigious rum and bitter brand under his new winning title!