Andy Loudon, two years later
Two years ago, Andy Loudon won the big prize at the 2014 Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix. He will be back this year, but this time round he will be doing the judging. A mere six weeks before the big final, we caught up with him and asked him how things had been going over the last 24 months...
… and things have been going very well indeed: “I now have my own business called Silver Pineapple Limited, in reference to one of my winning cocktails at the Grand Prix and I just did consulting work on a new bar off Leicester Square, called the Blind Spot and located in the St Martins Lane Hotel. I also got the opportunity to judge the national finals for the Grand Prix in Norway, Germany, Holland…”
So do you still have time to actually make cocktails? I’m running Satan’s Whiskers, and I’m still making drinks, working the floor or training the staff five days a week. We’ve also opened a second spot six months ago, in Dalston. It’s called Silk Stockings.
You also went back to Cuba…
Yes, I spent a week in Havana with Havana Club Global Brand Ambassador Meimi Sanchez and Scotty Schuder to work on a cocktail menu for La Guarida (“Fresa y Chocolate”’s emblematic ‘casa particular’). We did 14 drinks that pair with certain tapas style dishes they have on the menu for their rooftop balcony. We had to take into account the availability of products, but also a different style of bartending.
Would you say your Cuban experience had an impact on your bartending?
For me, when I travel, it’s all about getting different experiences, taking the very good things and blending them together into one style. So yes, it had an impact but maybe not in a way that I could put my fingers on. I’m looking forward to going back, and I’ll actually stay a bit after the Grand Prix, I’ll go to Matanzas, and then I’ll travel in South America. It’s a vacation but some work related stuff will surely find its way in…
What advice would you give to this year’s finalists?
Keep it very simple and use the best quality fruits you can possibly find. Cuban drinks revolve around the holy trinity – rum, lime, sugar – and they never have more than 4 or 5 ingredients. It’s about using the best, freshest ingredients that are available anywhere in the world. Also, try and take as much equipment as you can with you. Last time, I took everything with me, including ice tools and my scale… And I pretty much used every single bit of it.
And what would be looking for specifically, as a judge?
The simplicity and the balance of the flavours, of course. But I’ll also be looking for drinks with a good story.