Lewis McKenzie from Axis Bar in the Hilton Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, has been crowned winner of the sixth annual OPIHR Global Cocktail Competition, following a gripping grand final which took placein Venice, Italy, last night [Thursday 26th September].
Lewis was up against five other top bartenders from around the world, including finalists from UK & Ireland, USA, Germany, APAC and South Africa; all of whom had shaken and stirred their way to the final with their cocktail creations. For the final, the bartenders were tasked with creating a cocktail that transcended borders, cities and cultures, encapsulating their journey to the final in Venice. Each cocktail was to contain no more than five ingredients as well as, of course, OPIHR Gin.
The judging panel, which was comprised of the 2018 OPIHR Global Cocktail Competition champion, Aaron Pollack; Danil Nevsky, Editor of the popular bartending website, Cocktails For You; and Filippo Sisti, Italian mixologist and Bar Manager at Carlo e Camilla in Milan, Italy, were impressed by the quality, local ingredients that Lewis chose to include in his winning cocktail, all of which rooted the creation in the culture of the hosting city.
Speaking of his cocktail, Lewis commented, “My creation, entitled “A bridge too far”, is inspired by the spirit of adventure and those who are bold and brave enough to explore the world in the search of new experiences and cultures – just like we all have with our journey to the final in Venice. Taking inspiration from all that I have discovered here, I created a cordial using fresh grapefruit and local lavender honey. I combined this with chamomile and Szechuan pepper to echo the flavour profile of OPIHR, which worked perfectly when mixed with the spiced gin, and finished it off with some orange bitters. For me, this creation represents Marco Polo, a famous Venetian traveler who headed East.
“I’ve had the most amazing time here in Venice and it’s been a pleasure to meet such talented bartenders. We’ve learned and shared so much during our week here, and I’ll be going home with new knowledge and some unforgettable memories. To be crowned the Spirit of OPIHR 2019 is a dream come true!”
The two days preceding the final were busy for the finalists with the group immersing themselves in Venice’s culturally rich canal lined streets, getting inspired by the city’s tastes and smells, as well as being introduced to new ingredients by their fellow bartenders from the world over. Together the group embarked on a number of activities, including a trip to the island of Murano, where they were introduced to the skillful art of Venetian glassblowing. The trip left them in awe of the glassware they are using in their bars back home and offered further inspiration for the presentation of their final cocktail.
Crowned the Spirit of OPIHR, Lewis will now get the opportunity to work on exciting projects and support the OPIHR brand team around the world in an honorary brand ambassador role.
Robert Milton, International Brand Director for OPIHR Gin at brand owner, Quintessential Brands, added; “Once again we have been blown away by the caliber of the contestants at this year’s competition, all of which impressed the judges with their unique creations. All finalists have shown tremendous interest in the local culture and understood what Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin is all about – the journey and not necessarily the destination. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the bartenders for taking part and congratulate them on their fantastic cocktail creations, especially our worthy winner Lewis. You have all become a part of the OPIHR family this week and we’re already looking forward to next year’s competition.”
Lewis’ winning cocktail ‘A Bridge Too Far’ was:
40ml OPIHR Oriental Spiced Gin
40ml Spiced Honey Cordial
10ml Orange Bitters
The eight finalists in the OPIHR Global Cocktail Competition 2019 were:
- Darren Geraghty, UK & Ireland
- David Mor, U.S.A
- Merlin Hoyer, Germany
- Hoang Tu Quyen, Vietnam
Aaron Datnow, South Africa
For more information on OPIHR Gin, visit http://www.opihr.com.
For further information, please contact Rebecca Eneh at Quintessential Brands via email: [email protected]
For more information, please contact the communications team at Quintessential Brands by e-mail: [email protected]
ABOUT QUINTESSENTIAL BRANDS GROUP
Quintessential Brands is an award-winning international spirits company, dedicated to distilling and crafting the world’s best alcohol brands for consumers and customers globally. Pioneering spirits of the industry, inspired since 1761 by their founder, Thomas Dakin, Quintessential Brands Group delivers a diverse portfolio of award-winning, best-selling spirits with unrivalled heritage and craftsmanship.
Founded in 2011 by Enzo Visone, former CEO of Gruppo Campari, and entrepreneur, Warren Scott, Quintessential Brands Group owns world-class manufacturing facilities across Europe, including G&J Distillers, the world’s oldest continuous gin distillers, in Cheshire, UK; L&L in France, a leading manufacturer of fruit spirits and liqueurs; Irish Cream artisan producers, First Ireland Spirits; and the Dublin Liberties Distillery, which opened in 2019. Renowned for its white spirits expertise at G&J Distillers, Quintessential Brands has won International Spirit Challenge Gin Producer of the Year three times and is fast winning a reputation as one of the most exciting new Irish whiskey producers to emerge on the scene.
Quintessential Brands’ award-winning premium brands portfolio includes Greenall’s The Original Handcrafted Gin, BLOOM London Dry Gin, Thomas Dakin Small Batch Gin, Berkeley Square London Dry Gin, and Opihr Gin. Its Irish brands include The Dubliner Irish Whiskey, The Dublin Liberties Irish Whiskey, The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, Feeney’s Irish Cream Liqueur and O’Mara’s Irish Country Cream. iqueurs in the portfolio include Alizé and Toussaint Coffee Rum Liqueur. The company is also a leader in contract bottling and own label & private label spirits, working with retail partners across the world to provide spirits solutions of unrivalled quality.