Drinks International’s 23rd Cocktail Challenge

The standout drink of the round – and indeed the entire tasting – was the Tinglet, from Pernod Ricard’s Olmeca Altos.

Judges described the drink (see recipe, right box) as “beautiful”. Happiness Forgets’ Burgess said: “You know it’s a tequila cocktail, even though there’s chocolate in there too.” Dandelyan’s Griffiths added: “I’d be happy to drink this throughout the day. It’s a drink that takes skill – it’s very well balanced.”

Callooh Callay’s Thompson simply said this was “the best drink” of the day and indeed the panel agreed it to be worthy of the title of Supreme Champion of the Cocktail Challenge 2016.

Silvers went to House of Elrick gin’s The Baron – which judges agreed was a “solid sour drink that you’d order in a bar” – and Staibano fruit liqueur’s Staibano Basil Sour, which judges said was “presented so well it would be a big seller in a bar and had great balance and aromas”.

Other silvers came in the form of Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary Champagne Sazerac, which judges said was a well-balanced twist on the classic, and Woodford Reserve’s Last Cause, which was described as “thoroughly drinkable”.


Long drinks are starting to be taken more seriously in the bar world, but – because of their dilution – are probably the hardest style to get right.

Of the five long drinks entered into this year’s Cocktail Challenge, one took gold, one silver and one bronze. The favourite was Finlandia’s B&B Snap, a beetroot and vodka drink with a retro apple fan garnish (see recipe right). Judges said the balance of sugar, acidity and bitterness was perfect and that “you couldn’t improve it in any way”. As to the retro garnish Dandelyan’s Griffiths said: “The fan works – it gives height dimension and a colour variation.”

It was a strong performance from Finlandia this year. Having taken gold in the Long Drinks category, it also took silver with the Veggie Sour, which judges described as a “tasty drink of lemon and zingy, sherbet notes”.


Surprisingly the After Dinner Drinks category didn’t offer up any gold or silver medalists but, of the eight drinks judged, there were two that received bronze medals. Jack Daniel’s The King of the Sandwich was judged the best of the category, though the panel thought “the balance was a touch out” and might have been bettered with the addition of bitters.

The Metaxa Ginger Sour was described as a “solid sour”, but the rosemary garnish wasn’t adding to the overall impact of the drink.