So that’s it: in three days, the 40 finalists will fly in from all over the world to start their Havana adventure. It’s going to be a stressful week, of course, but it’s going to be a one in a lifetime experience. That, at least, we can promise. Anyway: nervous yet, fellas? If so, don’t worry; everyone went through the same feelings, even the eventual winners. As a last minute read, at Bar News we’d like to remind you of the recipes that some fantastic bartenders came up with in order to win top spot. Here are the last three winners and their drinks. Can you match them at the 2018 Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix?
2012 – Julien Escot (France) – Caribbean Julep
This was the last edition under the old rules; bartenders were allowed to bring homemade products with them and we even saw preparations made with rotovap. The winning drink, though, was a much simpler affair, easily replicable. It has since proved a great success at Escot’s bars.
80 ml Havana Club Añejo 7 años
20 ml homemade falernum
5 ml Pimento Dram
Build drink in a julep tin, fill with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprig, candied orange zest and crushed spices.
2014 – Andy Loudon (UK) – La Rosa Blanca
For the first time, all ingredients had to be sourced at the local markets. There were a few bumps on the road, to be sure, but all competitors were mentored by Cuban cantineros. Among the final ten, Andy was one of the few to take a huge risk: he scrapped his semi-final drink and came up with this doozy. Andy’s been travelling the world for two years and we’re sure the Rosa Blanca would have seduced every person he met on his journey.
40 ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
15 ml Tio Pepe Sherry
2 ml Ricard 20 ml fresh lime juice
20 ml sugar syrup
Muddle the cloves in the bottom of the shaker. Add all ingredients, shake with ice and strain in a coupette. Serve with a straw.
2016 – Amaury Cepada (Cuba) – Cunyaya
Two years ago, a much stronger focus was put on the overall presentation of the cocktail. Competitors still had to visit the markets, but they were treated beforehand on a masterclass where they learned what to expect. Amaury won it for Cuba; he was certainly helped by his intimate knowledge of the island’s produce but we feel is stunning performance on stage – with music, smoke and some fantastic words had a lot to do with his triumph.
45 ml Havana Club 7
5 ml Honey
7,5 ml Sour Orange
60 ml Fresh Sugar Cane Juice
2 dashes Essence of Cuba (Tropical Fruits)
Pour all ingredients in a ice-filled shaker, shake with ice and strain in a clay cup placed on a little plate. Garnish with stick of natural sugarcane.