First Clément Ti’ Punch Cup goes to Dirk Hany

DI's Jaq Bayles travelled to Martinique for the first ever Clément Ti’ Punch Cup


With agricole widely tipped to be one of the new pack leaders for rum, it’s only fitting it should have a champion to ride it to the head of the field - and Switzerland’s Dirk Hany obliged when he won the first Clément Ti’ Punch Cup competition.

In an epic three-round final at Clément’s stunning Martinique home on Friday night, Hany scooped the trophy after battling it out with 16 fellow finalists from Europe, the US and Hong Kong in front of a crowd of some 1,400 spectators.

The audience were out in force for the culmination of a competition that saw the finalists shake, rattle and roll their way through an adrenalin-fuelled day which started with a Ti’ Punch and ended with a knockout. Billed as a ‘swizzle off’, the final surprise speed round called on contestants to create two classic Ti’ Punches – one with white and one with aged agricole rum – for each of the four judges.

At the final reckoning it was ultimately a ‘Swissle off’, as the tender from Zurich’s Widder bar made like his more famous sporting countryman and served an ace round of eight Ti’ Punches in just 59 seconds. Second-placed Riccardo Marinelli, from Rome’s Jerry Thomas Speakeasy made his round of the cane syrup, lime and agricole rum cocktail in 75 seconds, while third-placed Timothy Ching, from Hong Kong’s Bibo, was just behind on 95 seconds.

But while the speed round made for great entertainment, it was the accumulation of points from all three rounds that secured Hany his crown with Clément, named this year as one of the top Trending Brands in the World’s 50 Best Bars Brands report.

Hany kept the crowd onside throughout with his irresistible insistence on audience participation, but beyond the energy and professionalism, it was his imaginative take on Martinique’s favourite tipple and his skill with the second round ‘marketplace’ challenge – for which 10 finalists made the cut – that carried him to championship status.

A former Pernod Ricard brand ambassador, Hany returned to the stick two years ago and is pledged only to take part in one competition a year. He chose Clément’s Ti’ Punch Cup because of his belief in agricole as a style that can reinvigorate the rum category.

 “There could be a real rum revolution in the next few years, with agricole playing a big part,” said Hany after the competition. “Agricole is similar to cachaça and a lot of people drink caipirinhas. I don’t think Ti’ Punch is necessarily to the palate of Europeans because it’s not drunk chilled, but the feedback on agricole from friends and clients has been amazing. This competition could be a huge event with hundreds of people coming to Martinique.”

Indeed, Clément’s event team was already stunned by the attention Ti’ Punch Cup drew – they had been expecting between 500 and 1,000 people to show up to the final, so the 1,400 tally proved a major bonus on a night that epitomised the essence of rum as a fun spirit.

While the contest was mainly about raising the profile of agricole (which is made with cane sugar, as opposed to molasses), it also aimed to draw attention to the ingredients which complement the spirit. To that end, round two of the final invited the contestants to choose locally sourced ingredients from a ‘marketplace’ table. But there was a twist – each cocktail had to hero Martinique fruit Caimite, which most finalists had never even heard of it. All rose to the challenge, producing some inventive and well-balanced cocktails within the ten-minute time slot each was allotted – including grabbing their ingredients from the table.

Over the course of the three rounds, the competition provided entertainment, education and a good serve of rum fun and Clément will repeat Ti’ Punch Cup in 2017, already with eyes on a larger event.

The judges: (Round 1) David Malouta, Rhum Clément; Katherine Gombart, UMIH; Nick Ferris, the Rum Collective; Stefano Nincevich, Italy; (Round 2) Peter Holland, the Floating Rum Shack; Frank Martucci, US Bartenders Guild; Gaelle Hardy, Rhum Clément; Jeremy Edward, Martinique Radio.

The finalists: Bruno Simons, Mixing Tales, Antwerp; Caspar Monniche, Mash, Aarhus; Nicolas Margeot, Carry Nation, Marseille; Marie Picard, Chez Claude, Paris; Pierre Blin, Le Galion, Cancale; Andreas Giaprakas, Vogatsikou 3, Thessaloniki; Timothy Ching, Bibo, Hong Kong; Valentina Grilli, Mag Café, Milan; Riccardo Marinelli, Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, Rome; Livia Verin, Le Boli Bar Hotel Simon, Martinique; Cassandra Droz, Apothicaire Cocktail Club, Geneva; Dirk Hany, Widder Bar, Zurich; Tiago Semblano, Pachamama, London; Emily Reynolds, The Blue Pig, Manchester; Kayleigh Speck, the Grange, Providence; Chris Amirault, the Corner Door, Los Angeles; Rob Crabtree, Armadillo Palace, Houston.