Bramble's Arthur toasts Courvoisier win

Jonathan Arthur of Bramble, Edinburgh, has won the national final of the Courvoisier Toast of Paris cocktail competition and will go on to represent the UK in the international finals in Paris in May.

Back for a second year with double the entries to last year's contest, Courvoisier Toast of Paris, held at The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, asked bartenders to create cocktails that celebrate the Golden Age of Paris (1870-1910).

Last year's format had competitors making one cocktail but this year they were challenged to make two drinks.

One a low ABV aperitif-style drink that would suit the daytime and the second cocktail more suitable for evening drinking that celebrates the 'joie de vivre'.

On the judging panel were Courvoisier global brand ambassador Rebecca Asseline, creative director of Drink Factory Tony Conigliaro, senior Mixxit ambassador for Maxxium Amit Sood and head bartender at The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, Kyle Wilkinson.

Of the five finalists, it was Jonathan Arthur's drinks that "covered all the bases" according to Conigliaro, who also said that it felt like he was "watching (Arthur) bartend rather than in [perform in] a competition."

His aperitif style drink 'Reunion' combined Courvoisier VSOP with Suze, Absentroux, fennel syrup, lemon juice and a celery, cucumber and caraway tincture while his evening drink was more simple and stirred down with Courvoisier VSOP, Pedro Ximinez sherry and Peychaud's bitters.

The runners up were Alex Godfrey from RedLight, Bristol and Sofia Pinckard from Wilderness, Birmingham.

Judge Wilkinson added: "I was impressed with the competition, it was a close call. Everyone nailed one drink and it was the second drink that really decided who won."

Global brand ambassador Asseline said of the competition:  "All the competitors showed [they had done] very good research. There was an abundance of excellent hospitality skills and character behind the bar with a lovely approach to presentations and uplifting stories behind each drink."

"It's new for us to have cognac aperitifs and evening drinks with both a traditional and modern approach. It's nice to see the UK showing love for an often overlooked category of drinks."

Arthur said of his win: "I'm so surprised, genuinely in disbelief... I wanted to present drinks that took a bit of a risk and were a little off the beaten path. I wanted my aperitif drink to be different to what people might otherwise expect and for my evening drink I wanted to create something that had a sense of down to earth elegance."

"I only recently started working in Bramble - two months ago - after working in the sister bar The Last Word. I think the win will allow me to find my feet a little more and will help me to meet new people within the industry."

National finalists will head to Jarnac, France, where they will compete in the international final, experience a masterclass by Courvoisier master blender Patrice Pinet and visit the Paradis cellars where the winner will claim a bespoke cognac blend in a crystal decanter.