The red carpet challenge was a lot of fun! Since there are no restrictions to how you conceptualise your serves, there is a lot of theatre and a lot of showmanship. The most interesting ting was to see how differently we had all interpreted the challenge.
My Ketel One Signature Cocktail, Pursuit of Happiness, was inspired by Will Smith and his movie with the same name. I think its important to always keep in mind the reason we are all in this industry, to make people happy! My favo thing about being a bartender has always been the fact that you get to be a part of peoples happy moments: a great date, night out with friends, celebrations and on occasions – the only good part of a really bad day. This drink celebrates these moments.
Pursuit of Happiness
50 ml Ketel One vodka
15 ml Olorosso sherry
20 ml Lemon juice
15 ml sugar syrup (2:1)
1 dash Mozart chocolate bitters
4 drops toasted sesame oil
Lemon zest, white chocolate & edible gold
Shake with ice, strain into prechilled cocktail coupe. Zest the lemon peel over the drink and discard, garnish with edible gold and white chocolate.
My thought behind the drink was to make a drink that is easy to like for first time guests, guests that might not be that familiar with cocktails, but still keep an interesting flavour profile, so that bartenders and regulars would enjoy it too.
For my bottle serve I chose Talisker 10 as the lead brand. It was an easy choice. I LOVE Talisker.
The inspo for my, Made by the Sea, Talisker 10 serve was Gerorge Clooney and his movie “The perfect Storm”. In this movie he plays the captain of a fishing boat caught at sea, in what turns out to be the perfect storm (if there is such a thing).
If ever caught out at sea in bad weather, most sailors would know to look for lighthouses to guide them back to port – and this could mean the difference between life and death….
For this serve, I used a big glass trey filled with seaweed and oyster shells, and in the middle I had an atomiser. On top, I placed my Talisker 10 bottle, making it the best lighthouse ever (in my mind). I covered it up with a big glass cloche – and as it sat there while I made my signature cocktail, the cloche filled up with a cedar wood scented mist, looking very storm like.
As I lifted the cloche, releasing the aroma of George Clooney ( his perfume at least), the “lighthouse” appears – just like it would when you reach your safe haven.
When I was young, we always used to go “treasure” hunting after big storms. If you were lucky, you could find a lot of cool stuff! Most of the time you’d have to really search to find something – and it was important to never leave any stones unturned.
Underneath each oyster shell I had hidden small glass bottles with infused water, 4 in total, and one by one they were revealed to the judges.
The bottles represents 4 seasons by the sea, and each season was inspired by the 4 main flavour points of Talisker 10.
Spring – when the ocean wakes up after a long hard winter, with its crisp fresh sea air, was infused with Nori and Sea salt.
Summer – with sunshine and happy days, was infused with pear and pineapple
Fall – Cooler weather and harsher nights, was infused with black pepper and grains of paradise
Winter – Coming full circle with open fire and smokiness, combined with crisp winter air, was infused with Lapsang and Jasmine
The idea behind the serve is quite simple, whisky and water, but I wanted to tailor it specifically to Talisker and really try to tell the story of why I love this whisky so much. For me that means highlighting these flavours, but in a subtle way. Each seasonal serve was a shot of Talisker with 10-20 ml of infused water added to it.
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All images by Ian Gavan/Getty Images