Here’s a recap of my first day in Madrid
The first day had us do one challenge, and my first was Bartender-Barchef or food pairing if you will. Each competitor was to make 2 cocktails, one pre prepared (we got the brief beforehand) and one on-the-spot creation. Both cocktails were to match a tapas dish chosen from a selection of 6 dishes. The brands available was Ron Zacapa and Malts, Talisker 10, Singleton of Dufftown and Cardhu to be exact. The time given was 20 minutes to taste the food and create your second cocktail, 10 minutes to set up your bar and 10 minutes to make and present your drinks to the judges. Judging this round was Mario Navarro, Global Brand Ambassador for Ron Zacapa, Donald Colville, Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador and Iñaki Oyarbide, Spain’s first 3 star Michelin chef (!).
The 3 dishes we knew was Manchego cheese with quince jam, Iberico ham con Pan con Tomate and Churros con chocolate – matching our pre prepared cocktail.
The 3 new dishes was Fried codfish, Spanish omelet with Padron pepper and Crema Catalan.
The cool thing about this challenge is that in reality its actually a 2 in 1 challenge, both food pairing and mystery box. Since you don’t know what dishes you’ll get or what ingredients you’ll have until you are here, its all about instincts – which I love!
For my first drink I’d chosen Ron Zacapa as my star and matched it to the Manchego cheese and quince jam.
It took me a while to come up with the concept of this drink, because as I was reading the brief, my first idea was to make a beer cocktail. I felt it was a bit risky since I didn’t want to take any focus away from the Zacapa, but I also know better than to fight my instincts when making drinks. In the end, reason lost to heart, and I went for it -Beer me up Scotty!
Top of the Hops
45 ml Zacapa
10 ml Fresh Lemon
2 barspoon Cedarwood Syrup
1 dash Sherry Vinegar
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitter
50 ml Above and Beyond Hefe Weizen
Throw the first 5 ingredients with ice, and strain into a pre chilled sherry glass. Top up with the beer. Plate the cheese and quince on top of the glass. I also served a small glass of the beer with the drink, so it looked like a serving of sherry and beer.
As for the beer, its a hefe weizen brewed with fresh ginger and lemon peel during fermentation. Before bottling it, I added a reduction of Zacapa, and let it rest until the competition. Let me just say, the wait was nerve wrecking! Since the beer is still alive, once you bottle it you cant open it without killing it.
It was very important to me that it is a beer with the same flavour notes as Zacapa, not a Zacapa with beer added to it. The difference might only be marginal, but crucial never the less. Luckily, I had some help from Dave and the guys from Crow bar in Oslo – thank you so much!
I knew I wanted to work with Talisker for my second cocktail, and to be perfectly honest I was hoping for something spicy. When that didn’t happen, I chose the omelet based on two things: I’m an egg person – and I love padron peppers!!
At the beginning of our 20 minutes to create the second cocktail I had absolutely no idea of what to do. Since the omelet was quite delicate in flavor I decided to make a light and refreshing drink, but the funny thing is that I would have never come up with this under any other circumstance!
45 ml Talisker 10 y
15 ml Green Chartreuse
15 ml Orgeat
30 ml White grapefruit
15 ml Lime
Swizzle (fo’shizzle) with crushed ice and serve with Spanish omelet & padron pepper on the side.
I realize its quite an unusual thing to use both Talisker, Green Chartreuse and orgeat in the same drink, but I wanted it to match both the omelet and the pepper not just the one or the other. The greener flavors from the chartreuse marries well with the pepper, whilst the orgeat works perfectly with the potatoes in the omelet.
Even though I broke a bottle during set up, was super nervous and almost forgot my name in the beginning of my presentation – I still had so much fun during the first day.
And to make it even better – I won this challenge!!