Royal Palms bartender Lachlan Morris will head to Jamaica to participate in the regional round of the Stolichnaya Cocktail Competition after winning the Cayman round hosted by Cayman’s Stoli distributor, Tortuga Rum Company, at the Side Bar at Grand Cayman Beach Suites on 18 March, 2013.
Grand Cayman has been busy with cocktail competitions this year, but one held on 18 March at the Side Bar at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites gave bartenders the largest palette of spirits with which to work: The large portfolio of Stolichnaya vodkas.
The Stolichnaya Cocktail Competition pitted 11 of Cayman’s bartenders against each other in creating an original cocktail that was judged on taste, appearance and creativity. In the end, Royal Palms bartender Lachlan Morris won the contest, but the competition was tough.
The Cayman round of the Stolichnaya Cocktail Competition was organised by Tortuga Rum Company, the official distributor of the vodka brand here in the Cayman Islands.
Stolichnaya, which is more commonly referred to as Stoli, is probably the best-known exported Russian vodka. It’s name means ‘capital city’ in Russian.
Made with wheat, rye and water, Stoli is known for its smoothness and for making a good cocktail spirit. It remains one of the more popular vodkas on the market.
When it comes to flavoured vodkas, Stoli leads the way with 16 different flavours from which to choose.
In creating their cocktails, bartenders were able to choose all their ingredients as long as the main alcoholic ingredient was Stoli vodka. Other alcoholic ingredients were allowed as long as they didn’t overshadow the vodka.
The Side Bar provided the basic alcoholic ingredients, but bartenders had to take with them non-alcoholic ingredients as well as speciality alcoholic ingredients.
Four judges, including Miss Cayman Lindsay Japal, rated each of the 11 cocktails made, giving a maximum 10 points in each of three categories: presentation, taste and originality.
The presentation category looked at how appetizing the cocktail was, the garnishes and decoration, the glassware used to serve the cocktail, and how creative the presentation was.
The criteria judged for taste included how well the flavours worked together, unusual flavour combinations, aroma, after-taste, balance and whether the cocktail had the right amount of alcohol.
In the originality section, judges looked at the uniqueness of the cocktail; whether it offered something unexpected; the originality of the name; the commercial viability of the cocktail; and whether it highlighted Stoli vodka positively.
Bartenders were only required to make one cocktail for the judges to try, but several of the bartenders made at least one more so their industry colleagues who were in attendance could sample them as well.
The bartenders used a wide variety of ingredients in their cocktails and for their garnishes. Most bartenders made cold cocktails, but Bridgett Leggatt of Ortanique decided to make a unique coffee drink that impressed the judges, but placed just out of the top three.
Placing third in the competition was New Zealander Dustin Norton of Stingers with his Kiwi Surprise cocktail. His powerful yet refreshing citrusy cocktail had a ‘wow factor’ in its presentation – a piece of dry ice that made the drink bubble and smoke.
Coming in second place was relative newcomer to Cayman, Daniel Bishop of the Brasserie. His Garden Gimlet cocktail featured the fresh vegetables and herbs that come from the chef’s garden at the Brasserie, including a bright red seasoning pepper that floated on top of the drink and added a touch of spiciness to the cocktail.
For the winning cocktail, which was named ‘24-HN’, Morris boldly integrated two Stoli flavoured vodkas – the jalapeño pepper-flavoured Stoli Hot and the honey-flavoured Stoli Sticki. The two very different strong flavours balanced each other perfectly, giving Morris a narrow victory in the competition.
The top three finishers all received bottles of the honey-flavoured Stoli Sticki, the newest Stoli flavour on the market.
For his third-place finish, Norton also received a litre bottle of Stoli Gold vodka. For second place, Bishop also received a .750 bottle of Stoli’s super premium offering, Stoli Elit.
For winning the competition, Morris also received a one-litre bottle of Elit and he wins a trip to Jamaica for three days in May to compete in the Stolichnaya Caribbean Regional finals. Should he win that competition, Morris would then travel to the United States to compete for the top prize.