By Leiselle Maraj Saturday, February 25 2012
A fizzy tribute to the Caribbean and a retake of a previous cocktail helped David Delaney Junior of the United States of America capture the title of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge Champion last Sunday.
Fifteen bartenders from each continent of the world and the Caribbean brought their best to the bar at the 2012 Global Cocktail Challenge held at Trotter’s Restaurant and Bar, Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain. It was an afternoon of food, Carnival inspired fun and cocktails mixed up by the finalists who were chosen from hundreds of competitors from around the world. Each was allowed seven minutes to mix and garnish a rum cocktail and a freestyle cocktail using Angostura Bitters.
At the end of it all Delaney’s “On Second Thought”, which combines Bitters with a variety of fruity alcohol captured the Best Freestyle award and helped him win the overall prize of US$10,000 and the opportunity to be the Angostura global brand ambassador for the next year. He takes up the mantle from last year’s winner, Andy Griffiths of Australia who acted in the capacity of judge in this year’s competition. The panel also included the head judge Tony Abou-Ganim out of the United States; Hine Cognac Cellar Master, Eric Forget; Angostura’s Vidia Doodnath; and Leblon Cachaca’s Global Brand Director, Jacob Briars.
Delaney fought the surreal nature of the moment to share his thoughts on winning the competition.
“Hearing my name called twice is mind-blowing. During the competition, I was in the back watching the other competitors put their craft to work and I was nervous. I thought I didn’t stand a chance against these true professionals,” he said.
While Delaney is glad to receive the prize money, he eagerly anticipates the opportunity to become the Angostura Brand Ambassador for one year. “It’s great to win with a product that I work with and believe in. Being the Brand Ambassador means the world to me,” said the little-travelled bartender from Massachusetts, who has only previously ventured to Mexico and now, Trinidad and Tobago from the United States.
The title of global ambassador means he will be travelling across the world for the next year, promoting the Angostura brand.
According to his brief biography, Delaney has won an array of international competitions while tending bar for Niche Hospitality restaurant group for seven years. It was at this base he was able to perfect his cocktails for the competition.
“On Second Thought was a recreation of a cocktail I used in last year’s challenge but I did not qualify for the finals. I knew the qualifying rounds was coming up in the Fall so I worked on the cocktail and included a lot of fall flavours in it. The second drink (Five Island Fizz) is a fizz or an effervescent cocktail paying tribute to the islands. While I was working on it, customers were allowed to taste and give their opinion on it,” he said.
Having tendered his resignation to the restaurant group, the Angostura Global Challenge winner is jobless at the moment. Delaney feels confident however that the title and the privileges that come along with it will open up several more opportunities for him. His advice for young and upcoming bartenders: “Work with products you believe in. If you do not stand behind a product, it would not work. Do not forget about the classics. My ingredients were simple and straight to the point.”
Joining Delaney in the winners’ circle was New Zealand’s Rikki Carter whose “Johann’s Bittered Sling” copped the Best Rum Cocktail title on the day. Carter placed second to Delaney in the overall results while the Caribbean was not left out of the top three as Jamaal Bowen of Barbados placed third with his freestyle cocktail “Farmer’s Affair” and the rum cocktail “Siegert’s Quest”.
Trinidad and Tobago’s own representative, Carla Cupid, while giving her best in the freestyle cocktail “Angostura’s Evening Clencher” and “Trini Breakfast Cocktail” did not place in the top three.
Neither did Ilya Bubashvili of Russia who gave an impressive display while mixing up his “Bitter Caribbean Swizzle” freestyle cocktail and “Listen to Your Heart” rum cocktail.
It was not all competition for the finalists who also had the chance to delve into the local culture while they were here for the competition.
They were taken on a tour of the Angostura compound, Eastern Main Road, Laventille and had the opportunity to play mas with the mas band, Bliss.